One of the most attractive free agents on the market this year will without a doubt be Adrian Beltre. The talented third baseman signed a one-year deal with the Red Sox last winter worth about 9 million. Beltre has been a force for the Red Sox with his .321 average (4th in the AL), 28 home runs, .919 in OPS, and .553 SLG (5th in the AL), and not to mention his gold glove caliber defense. With his deal in Fenway officially over with the Red Sox beating the Yankees on the season’s final day, the question now looms: where will Beltre end up in 2011?
Here are a few potential suitors for the third baseman’s services:
Boston Red Sox:
An obvious fit, the Red Sox would be smart to bring back the man who was an offensive force for them this season. Beltre became the a picture of consistency for the team in a disappointing year that saw key players such as Kevin Youkilis, Jacoby Ellsbury, and 2008 MVP Dustin Pedroia all spending significant time on the DL. Beltre can obviously hit in Fenway, and slides very nicely into the team’s line up. Beltre may not be an absolute necessity, however, because the team could move Youkilis to third, and then aim to find a temporary replacement at first for the 2011 season before trying to acquire a big gun first baseman next off season. So if Boras gets too pricey for the Sox, there is some flexibility.
Los Angeles Angels:
With the epic disappointment that is Brandon Wood in 2010, the Angels upgraded their third base position by acquiring Alberto Callaspo from the Royals. Callaspo, in my opinion, has played up to the expectations that the Halos were hoping for when they acquired him in July in an attempt to keep pace when they were still considered to be contenders in the AL West race. Callaspo is under team control until after the 2013 season. Beltre would be an even bigger upgrade over Callaspo, but they my not want to commit the inevitable hefty price tag that will come with Beltre. They may also be a little weary of Beltre’s stint with Seattle where he failed to deliver.
The Tigers also suffered a disappointing season despite having one of the top players in the game in Miguel Cabrera. Brandon Inge, the club’s current occupant at the hot corner is a free agent, and I could see the Tigers being a little apprehensive in resigning a player with the injuries that he’s had in the past couple seasons, although it has been rumored that they have been in talks about an extension. Beltre could be a viable option for the club.
The A’s pushed pretty hard for the third baseman last year, and actually offered the most money and years in a deal, but the Red Sox appealed to Beltre the most, obviously. So the A’s remain a potential bidder for his services, but may be reluctant to pursue a player who may not have mutual interest.
The Braves are an obvious suitor for Beltre should Chipper Jones retires at the end of the season. Atlanta will look to return to the postseason again Beltre would no doubt be a nice complement to Heyward and Alex Gonzalez in the line up.
Beltre would be a nice fit should Aramis Ramirez not pick up his player option worth $14.5 million for next year, although it is likely. And Beltre may not be any cheaper than Ramirez as the bidding for his services may get up to that price range.
The second half was a bit of a turnaround for the O’s. The hiring of Buck Showalter made the O’s season look a little less like a complete lost cause. The O’s could use a player of Beltre’s caliber in the line up, and with Ty Wigginton a free agent this year, it may pose for a perfect opportunity to upgrade the roster.
The Rockies also have a third baseman that could be leaving to free agency, making Beltre a candidate to fill the hole. We’ve seen what Beltre can do in a hitter’s park, imagine what he’d be capable of in what some consider to be the hitter’s park of all hitter’s parks.These are just a few potential suitors for Adrian Beltre. Let me know who else you think may be in the bidding in the comments.