When the Red Sox open the season in Texas on April 1, Adrian Beltre will be playing third base for the Rangers.
It’s not official yet, but multiple reports have the sides close to a five-year deal that would pay Beltre in the vicinity of $100 million.
(Did the Los Angeles Angels disband while I was on vacation? What is up with them?)
The short-term bad news for the Sox is that Beltre could hit a ball 17 miles if Jon Lester hangs a breaking pitch. The very good long-term news for the Sox is they will receive a first-round draft pick from Texas as compensation for Beltre.
That would be No. 26 overall along with a second pick in the compensation phase of the first round. The Red Sox also received two picks in return for Victor Martinez. They gave up their own pick (No. 24) for Carl Crawford.
One caveat: If the Rangers signed higher-ranked Rafael Soriano, the Red Sox would get a second-round pick from Texas.
Still, one way or another, the Red Sox will end up with six of the first 80 or so picks. That represents a significant opportunity to pour talent into the system.
The 2011 draft is deep. Plus it is likely to be the final draft where teams like the Red Sox can manipulate the system with their financial might.
Under the current rules, there are no financial parameters for picks, only suggestions from MLB and grumpy Bud Selig. The Red Sox routinely ignore those suggestions by taking hard-to-sign players after the first round and making them offers they can’t refuse.
As an example, high school shortstops Sean Coyle and Garin Cecchini were first-round type talents who fell into the third and fourth round, respectively, last June because they were seeking “over-slot” deals to turn down college scholarships. The Red Sox gave them $1.3 million each to turn pro.
Most players in those rounds receive approximately $400,000.
By having so many early picks, the Red Sox can afford to snap up several such players in June. The 2012 draft is likely to have strict rules (such as the NBA and NFL) to control salaries. MLB will seek that in the next labor agreement and the MLBPA is likely to give in to get something else it wants.
That makes picks in the 2011 draft exceedingly valuable. The Sox played the winter perfectly, it seems, greatly improving the team for 2011 while also laying the groundwork for a successful future.