The guy is a wizard at third base, plays hurt and plays hard every second he’s on the field. His teammates all seem to like him, he says the right things and we’ve all had fun watching Victor Martinez try and rub his head.
Last night’s game was a great example of his value. He drove in three runs and made several nice plays as third as the Sox came back to win.
So here’s the question I put to you this morning: Do you want to keep him?
The obvious response is of course you do. He has been the team MVP this season. But this season has been the outlier, not the norm, for Beltre. He arrived a career .270 hitter with a .325 OBP. He has always hit for power but this will likely be his best season since he slugged an eye-popping 48 homers for the Dodgers in 2004.
That led to Seattle giving Beltre a five year, $64 million deal that didn’t really work out well for either side. The Mariners thought Beltre would lead them to the playoffs, which never happened, while Beltre had his statistics suppressed at cavernous Safeco Field.
The Sox signed him to a one-year deal and it has paid off well for both sides. The Sox found a star and Beltre rebuilt his value to go back on the market this winter.
Beltre will be 32 in April but has already played 13 seasons. Keeping him in Boston also would require a significant investment as Beltre lives on the West Coast and probably would prefer to play there.
You also run the risk that he’ll never be this good again. His batting average for balls in play this season is .344, a crazy high number. Beltre is good, but he’s not this good.
But you can make a decent case that Boston is a great fit for him. Beltre seems much more comfortable being on the periphery of the spotlight after having it shine directly on him in Seattle. The lineup plays to his strengths, as does Fenway Park. He’s comfortable in the clubhouse and seemingly unafraid of the pressure and attention that comes from playing in the northeast.
It’s also worth noting that the Red Sox do not have a third baseman in the minors who is remotely close to being ready for the majors. It’s a weak position in the upper levels of the system.
The Red Sox have options. Kevin Youkilis can play third base or they could go out and find somebody else. But with Youkilis coming off thumb surgery, would it be smart be to move him to third base? A third baseman takes a lot more abuse than a first baseman.
Plus the Red Sox need the power. Their outfield doesn’t have much and Victor Martinez is a free agent, as is David Ortiz. Somebody has to hit home runs. If Beltre goes elsewhere, another big bat has to be obtained.
In a lot of ways, Beltre makes good sense for the Sox even if he hits “only” .280 with 25 homers.
There’s a lot to think about. For me, I’d offer Beltre three years and $45 million and see what happens. But four for $60 million? Not sure I go there.
So hat do you think? Keep Beltre or let him go? Leave a comment.