Free Agent Stock Watch: Adrian Beltre

Adrian Beltre signed a one-year, $10MM deal with the Red Sox in January, turning down three-year, $24MM offers from the Phillies and Athletics.  The Scott Boras client gambled that he'd bounce back in 2010 and exceed a two-year, $14MM deal after the season.  So far, it appears that Beltre was smart to bet on his own talent.

Beltre was expected to provide strong defense and a useful bat, perhaps a .330 OBP with 25 home runs.  Instead he's got a .330/.362/.509 line in 232 plate appearances.  He's tied for ninth in the AL with 40 RBIs; reaching 100 for the second time in his career won't hurt his earning potential.

Beltre's contract includes a 2011 player option worth $5MM, which will increase to $10MM with 640 plate appearances this year.  He's currently on pace for 637, so it'll be tight.  The $10MM option was never terribly relevant, though – if Beltre played enough to reach 640 PAs, he'd probably have a season worthy of more than a one-year, $10MM commitment.  Beltre is highly likely to decline his player option whether it's $5MM or $10MM.

I would not be surprised to see Beltre seek a four-year deal in the $50MM range at the outset of the offseason.  He'll be competing mainly with Jorge Cantu, if Aramis Ramirez's rough start compels him to exercise a $14.6MM player option.  Back in March, Red Sox GM Theo Epstein noted the possibility of signing Beltre long-term if he proves a good fit.  At the least we'll see an arbitration offer, as the third baseman currently profiles as a Type B free agent.



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