Beltre officially declines option for 2011

Not that this will come as any surprise, but a Major League source told the Globe that Adrian Beltre officially informed the Red Sox he has declined his $10 million option for 2011.

By virtue of reaching 640 plate appearances (he finished with 641), Beltre’s option increased from $5 million to $10 million. But he and agent Scott Boras know he’ll get a deal worth much more in the open market.

Beltre had a remarkable .321/.365/.553 season for the Sox. He led the team by playing 154 games and added 49 doubles, 28 home runs and 102 RBIs to the offense. The Fielding Bible evaluations had Beltre as the third-best fielding third baseman in baseball.

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General manager Theo Epstein has said he would like to retain Beltre but the issue will become cost and the player’s willingness to relocate his family from the West Coast.

The Red Sox will retain negotiating exclusivity with Beltre until 12:01 a.m. on Sunday. But that deadline is almost meaningless. He’s going to test the market.

Red Sox fans should wish the guy well whatever decision he makes. He played his butt off for six months and never gave the team an ounce of trouble. Beltre went miles beyond the most optimistic projections when he signed.

I hope he stays with the Sox because it was fun to watch him play. The best part was when he would grab a hot grounder at third, come to a complete stop, look at the ball for a second then throw a bullet to first.

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