Adrian Beltre is a free agent again, choosing to leave the Boston Red Sox rather than play for them in 2011. Beltre opted out of his contract, becoming a free agent who can now sign with any other team in Major League Baseball. It is still possible for the Red Sox to re-sign him as well, but it looks like Beltre is trying to capitalize off of a successful 2010 season and possibly get another really good contract out of it.
According to ESPN, Beltre gets a $1 million buyout from the Red Sox, meaning the team still has to pay him even though he opted out of the contract. This was a player option that his agent was able to negotiate during the last baseball offseason, and appears to have been a great move for Beltre. Beltre would have made $10 million in 2011 had he decided that he wanted to accept the player option and stay in Boston.
Beltre turned in a great season for Boston in 2010, hitting .321 over 154 games, driving in 102 runs, and hitting 28 home runs. He is back on top of the world, despite the frustrations he had finishing out his prior contract with the Seattle Mariners. Beltre was the full-time third baseman for Boston in 2010, and had an amazing number of doubles (49) to go along with his much-improved offensive statistics. Those stats should make many teams hoping to score a nice free agent signing quite happy.
The main reason for Beltre to opt out of this contract is to try to get a new contract that covers far more than just one season. Beltre earned $9 million in 2010 after coming off a rough 2009 season in Seattle, but now that he has proved he has that swing back, he could command a much better contract this offseason. He will be one of the best hitters on the market, and he is a Gold Glove third baseman who offers a great defensive option to any lineup. Now the 31-year-old will look to take his talents to a new city.
If the Boston Red Sox lose Beltre in their lineup and on defense, that is going to really harm their 2011 roster. They don’t have someone who can step into the third baseman role and provide what Beltre was able to give them. This might force them to offer him a nice new contract of multiple years at more than $10 million per season. They might not be alone in the bidding, though, as there are certainly a lot of teams out there that could use a power hitting third baseman like him.