As odd as it may sound, free agent third baseman Adrian Beltre’s decision to sign a contract with the Texas Rangers is more good news in an off season of positive developments for the Boston Red Sox.
Once the Red Sox traded for first baseman Adrian Gonzalez of the San Diego Padres this offseason, it became clear that Beltre would not be returning to Boston. With Gonzalez at first, Kevin Youkilis moving to third, and David Ortiz returning at designated hitter, the Red Sox had no place to play Beltre.
Under Major League Baseball’s collective bargaining agreement between owners and players, a complicated system of compensation is in place to award draft picks to teams, like Boston, who lose players via free agent contract with new teams.
The Texas Rangers, where Beltre will play for the next five or six years, will have to give up a high draft choice – projected to be 41st overall in the 2011 draft – to the Red Sox as compensation for signing Beltre. Had the slugger signed with some other team, the Red Sox would have received a considerably less attractive draft choice. It could have been as low as a second round choice, 60 or 70 picks into the draft.
Savvy, statistically-conscious Red Sox fans had already determined the various scenarios for free agent compensation that Boston might receive. Beltre’s deal with the Rangers was the best-possible scenario for Red Sox draft devotees.
Beltre becoming a member of the Texas Rangers was the latest in a string of off season good news for the Red Sox.
First, the Red Sox locked in the 26th pick in the 2011 MLB draft when catcher Victor Martinez departed the Red Sox for a free agent deal with the Detroit Tigers.
Then, Boston traded for Gonzalez, one of the top hitters in all of baseball.
Just days later, the Red Sox shocked the Major League Baseball annual winter meetings by signing free agent outfielder Carl Crawford away from their division rivals, the Tampa Bay Rays. Crawford was the most sought-after free agent hitter of the offseason, and he signed a seven-year, $142 million deal with Boston.
The best available pitcher on the market, Cliff Lee, spurned both the Texas Rangers and the Red Sox most-hated rivals, the New York Yankees, to return to the Philadelphia Phillies. It was a double win for Boston, as Lee not only rejected the Yankees, but he moved over to the national league, where the Red Sox will not have to contend with him in the post-season until a possible World Series matchup.
Later, the Red Sox added relief pitcher Bobby Jenks at a contract price well below that of similar free agent relievers, signing the former Chicago White Sox closer to a two-year $12 million contract.
It is perhaps the best offseason in history for the Red Sox. Not only has Boston revamped its lineup, but General Manager Theo Epstein and his staff will now have four of the top 41 picks in the 2011 MLB draft. This year’s draft is generally thought to be the deepest, in terms of available talent, in several years, and the Red Sox will have the most early-round picks they have had in a generation.