Rumors: Justin Upton, John Buck, Adrian Beltre and More
By Brian Phair
Every year in December, all of the MLB GMs get together for their winter meetings. The rumors always begin to fly in rapid succession because the media gets face-time with these important people and agents and players come looking for work. It also allows the GMs to chat with each other and in many cases, get the ball rolling on a trade or two. This year has been no exception, with a few deals already getting done and 10 times more rumors floating around in Disney heaven. Since it has been near impossible to keep up with all of the story lines, quotes and moves this past week, I have compiled a brief recap of the Red Sox status at these winter meetings and where they stand at this very moment.
- Justin Upton – Maybe the biggest surprise this off-season so far has been the growing interest in 23-year old Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Justin Upton. He is a rising star with the ability to hit for solid power and a fairly high average while using his speed to make things happen on the base paths. Theo reportedly inquired with the D-Backs GM about Upton, but according to multiple sources, the asking price for the young kid is astronomical. Theo hates overpaying for players, so you can consider the Upton deal non-existent.
- John Buck – In a thin free-agent catcher market, the Florida Marlins snatched up John Buck with a 3-year $18 million deal. The Sox had their eye on Buck if they lose out on the Victor Martinez sweepstakes, but it is for the best. Buck had a strong 2010 campaign, but given his career trends, he is nothing special and will likely not reproduce a high average any time soon. For more of my opinion on Buck, check out my post from last week. Needless to say, seeing Buck sign with the Marlins made me smile that he will not be playing for the Sox in 2011.
- Adrian Beltre – There were rumors flying around that the Theo drew a line in the sand at 4-years, $52 million for highly sought-after 3rd baseman Adrian Beltre. Although Theo denied this rumor, The Sox are likely going to remain in the range of a 4-year deal, which could pose a problem. On Wednesday, multiple sources reported an offer of 5-years, $64 million for Beltre to play for the Oakland Athletics. Scott Boras, Beltre’s agent, has been preaching long-term security for one of his hottest free agents, but that needs to be balanced with Beltre’s desire to win. Oakland will certainly be enticing to the slugger because they have some talent and are maybe a year or two away from being serious contenders, assuming they add the right pieces and can hold on to their young talent. We will see within the next few days and weeks how high the Sox are willing to climb for their 2010 All-Star.
- Victor Martinez – Like Beltre, Victor Martinez has drawn the attention of as many as 10 teams this off-season. Being the only top tier catcher available in the free agent market, he will certainly end up with a cushy deal with some long-term security, whether that is in Boston or elsewhere. Theo keeps saying that bringing V-Mart back is a priority, but will he be willing to put the money where his mouth is and match other offers. As with Beltre, overpaying may be the only option in what has developed into a player’s market this off-season.
"I think that we are going to sign, I won’t promise, but we’re going to sign a significant free agent. We are going to make a trade to improve ourselves. I want to assure everybody that there is no bridge year here this year. [In] 2011, we’re committed to win. (In response to Theo Epstein’s remark last season about 2010 being a bridge year) He made a very rare mistake saying that. After that, we did sign Adrian Beltre. We did sign John Lackey. Theo would be the first to say it wasn’t his finest Winston Churchill moment."
- Jed Lowrie – On Wednesday, Theo spent time chatting with the media praising Jed Lowrie’s ability at 3rd base. He believes Lowrie is a better 3rd baseman than 2nd baseman and thinks he could be starter at the hot corner. It is interesting to see Theo preparing the fan base for a team without Beltre and V-Mart these past few days, praising Jarrod Saltalamacchia early in the week and now Lowrie. Even though the Sox are going to be more aggressive than last year (I hope), it appears Theo is resigned to the fact that the price for Beltre and V-Mart will be just too high for the Sox liking.
"He has really opened some eyes. Great tools and it looks like he’s really going to hit. … He was centering everything, showing significant opposite-field power, puling the ball with authority as well and playing all three outfield positions and getting really good jumps. He was impressive and definitely an interesting guy."