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Beltre Signs With BoSox

Adrian BeltreEven though Boston wasn't able to trade Mike Lowell and his 95% torn thumb, they still went ahead and signed Adrian Beltre. According to Ken Rosenthal, the deal is $9 million for 1 year, with a $5 million player option for 2011 that bumps up to $10 million if Beltre makes 640 plate appearances (in other words, if he starts and is healthy the whole year).

There are also rumors that Beltre turned down a couple 3 year, $24 million offers. My guess would be that those were from the Orioles and Angels, but those are pure guesses. I would be surprised if the Orioles were not one of the teams though.

Since I wrote about Beltre's situation over and over and over, I feel obligated to write about it one more time now that he has finally signed.

First of all, this is a very Beltre-friendly deal, and I suppose nice for the Red Sox too with all the money they have locked up in other players. I would be shocked if Beltre takes the player option. He has only reached 640 plate appearances 3 times in his 12-year career, and Boston has great depth in the infield right now with Mike Lowell around (though you'd have to think he will be dealt at some point). The only way that option becomes $10 million is if Beltre has a big enough season to likely earn more in free agency next off-season. On top of that, he won't have a worse year than 2009, and that netted him $9 million, so it's hard to see him willingly accepting $5 million without testing free agency again.

The question remains: did Beltre make the right decision declining arbitration? Basically, he accepted $9 million from the Red Sox this year over $10-12 million (in all likelihood, with how arbitration works) from the Mariners.

I think it is now safe to say that Adrian left money on the table when he walked away from the M's arbitration offer, which is why I wrote so much about why I thought he would/should seriously consider accepting it. He also took less money to move much farther from his Los Angeles home. Also, though the Red Sox are probably a better team than the Mariners right now, they have to compete with the Yankees and Rays. The Mariners have weaker competition, and Beltre's bat would bolster the Mariners lineup more noticeably than Boston's.

Arguably, Beltre took a couple million less to move cross-country and join a team with roughly the same chance to win their division that the Mariners do.

To be fair to Adrian though, he had to make the arbitration decision before the M's acquired Cliff Lee. Also, Fenway Park is much better suited for Beltre's offensive approach than Safeco. He is going from one of the worst parks for a right-handed power hitter to one of the best. That is sure to boost his numbers, along with the natural bounce back that is reasonable to expect. In addition, Boston's lineup is loaded with great hitters, meaning Beltre is likely to pick up more runs and RBIs. He could close in on 100 in either or both categories, which like it or not, boosts his earning potential on the open market.

A 3 year, $24 million contract in a place like Baltimore would have been a clear loss for Adrian Beltre. A 1 year, $9 million contract in Boston is probably a wash. The difference in the park and lineup may enable Beltre to earn back the money he walked away from in the contract he gets next off-season.

A wash financially probably won't make the move from the west coast worth it for Beltre. Winning big would though. Beltre's decision has the potential to become an intriguing story, particularly if the Mariners contend in 2010.