Beltre, Martinez Are Boston’s “First Choices”

Adrian Beltre and Victor Martinez are two of this winter's most sought-after free agents, but don't discount the possibility that both players remain in Boston next season.  In a conference call with media (including WEEI's Alex Speier), Red Sox GM Theo Epstein said that re-signing both Beltre and Martinez are top priorities for his club.

Our first choice for our third baseman in 2011 and beyond would be to bring back Adrian Beltre,” said Epstein. “Victor would certainly be our first choice to be our 2011 catcher and beyond. He did an outstanding job for us in the year and a half he was here. … I know it’s been portrayed in the media a little bit as if we haven’t been pursuing him. … We absolutely want this guy back.”

The Red Sox are one of the few clubs that can afford signing two high-profile free agents like Beltre and Martinez, though Epstein noted that "it always comes down to years and dollars.”  The former is the more important factor for Boston.  Both players are 31 years old and signing either to a long-term contract might be tricky for a club that has Josh Beckett and John Lackey signed through 2014 to already borderline-regrettable deals.  Signing Beltre and Martinez would also make it virtually impossible that the Red Sox could afford Carl Crawford, their other big target of the winter.

Epstein said the club is "not particularly close to anything at this time" and doesn't expect any major signings before the deadline for teams to offer arbitration to free agents.  He also said that the Red Sox will trade or sign "at least one" new reliever this winter, though Epstein expects the market for bullpen help to be very busy this winter given the number of quality arms available.

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