When the Red Sox signed him to a one-year, $10MM deal in January, Adrian Beltre was coming off an injury-marred campaign. He'd played in a career-low 111 games, and his offense had tanked. The combination of Beltre being represented by Scott Boras and the third baseman's previous consistent work resulted in the large one-year commitment with Boston. The deal paid off for both sides, as Beltre combined good health, his typically stellar defense, and a .319/.365/.552 line. Which free agent position players are candidates to become the Adrian Beltre of 2011?
- Derrek Lee – Lee was consistently solid for the 2007-09 Cubs, averaging over four wins above replacement (using the FanGraphs version of the stat). In 2010 his power took a dive while his strikeout rate jumped, and he turned 35 this month. He's dealt with side, hand, back, hamstring, thumb, and foot injuries this year.
- Johnny Damon – Damon averaged 3.7 WAR for the 2008-09 Yankees but dropped to 2.0 this year for the Tigers. He still gets on base; maybe the power will return in the right situation. He's battled back and calf injuries this year. Damon turns 37 in November.
- Lance Berkman– He averaged 4.7 WAR from 2007-09, including a monster '08. The walks remain but Berkman's power plummeted in 2010. He had knee surgery in March and had fluid drained from it five times before being activated on April 20th. He also fought groin and ankle injuries. He'll turn 35 in February.
- Jose Lopez – He averaged 2.4 WAR from 2008-09, but sits at just 0.2 this year. The cause, again, is a loss of power. He missed time with a hamstring injury, but has been mostly healthy this year. One major change was a move from second to third base. Lopez figures to reach free agency by way of a declined option and a non-tender. He'll turn 27 in November, so youth is on his side.
- Carlos Pena– He averaged over four wins for 2007-09, but stands at just 1.1 this year. He had surgery a year ago for two broken fingers, and also dealt with a foot injury during the season. Pena turns 33 in May. He's also represented by Boras, and is the most likely player here to get a Beltre-like deal. However, none of these players match Beltre's combination of relative youth and defensive prowess.