Adrian Beltre has made it clear that he’d prefer to re-sign with the Red Sox following his one-season stop (and MVP-caliber performance) in Boston, saying the following earlier this week:
I got used to seeing that park full in the first inning and still full in the ninth inning. I liked that atmosphere. If everything was close to the same, I would go back to Boston.
And the Red Sox definitely had mutual interest in re-signing Beltre. Until now, at least.
If reports about Boston and San Diego having an Adrian Gonzalez blockbuster trade all but completed prove accurate, then the Red Sox will play Gonzalez at first base, move Kevin Youkilis to third base full time … and have no room in the lineup for Beltre to return.
So where does that leave the free agent third baseman? Oakland, probably.
Early in the offseason Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes reported that the A’s offered Beltre a five-year, $64 million deal, but Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe cast some doubt on the report and wrote that Oakland general manager Billy Beane “supposedly was a little baffled” when he heard about the $64 million offer.
However, this week Jayson Stark of ESPN.com reported that the A’s and Beltre were close to reaching an agreement. Several days have passed since Stark’s report and obviously Beltre is still a free agent, but Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle has confirmed that the A’s did indeed make Beltre “a big offer.”
Whether that means $64 million for five years or something else is unclear, but Oakland has been portrayed as a legitimate player for Beltre throughout the past two months and if Boston is suddenly completely out of the mix his negotiating leverage may have vanished to the point that he might have no choice but to accept Beane’s offer or take a much lesser deal elsewhere.
As if the Red Sox trading for one of the best players in baseball wasn’t enough, Adrian Gonzalez going to Boston would have a ripple effect that could send one of the elite free agents on the market to Oakland. For his sake, I hope Beltre didn’t get that used to seeing the ballpark full from the first inning to the ninth inning.