Red Sox Rumors: Boston among teams interested in Adrian Beltre

ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 09: Adrian Beltre #29 of the Texas Rangers at bat against the Los Angeles Angels in the fifth inning at Globe Life Park in Arlington on April 9, 2018 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 09: Adrian Beltre #29 of the Texas Rangers at bat against the Los Angeles Angels in the fifth inning at Globe Life Park in Arlington on April 9, 2018 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

The Boston Red Sox are reportedly among the teams interested in acquiring veteran third baseman Adrian Beltre from the Texas Rangers.

There are many who believe that the Boston Red Sox should never have let Adrian Beltre leave. Now there may be a chance they can bring him back.

The Red Sox are among the team’s that have shown interest in Beltre, reports the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo. The last-place Texas Rangers appear ready to move on from the veteran third baseman. The 39-year old is in the last year of his contract and may be approaching the finish line of his career.

Beltre signed a one-year “prove it” deal with the Red Sox in 2010 following a couple of down years with the Seattle Mariners. He bounced back in a big way, hitting .321 with a .919 OPS, 28 home runs, and a league-leading 49 doubles. He was selected to the All-Star team and finished ninth in AL MVP voting.

That strong campaign landed Beltre a lucrative deal with the Rangers, where he’s spent the last eight seasons. The Red Sox were enamored with Adrian Gonzalez at the time and didn’t need both corner infielders. In retrospect, choosing Gonzalez over Beltre was a mistake.

Boston struggled to find a viable long-term solution at third base following the departure of Beltre. They’ve finally found one with Rafael Devers, a promising 21-year old who is a clear cornerstone of the team’s future.

An upgrade at the hot corner?

The problem is that Devers is struggling in his first full big league season. He’s hitting .237 with a .704 OPS. He’s been a butcher with the glove, committing 15 errors and producing -5 defensive runs saved. Growing pains are to be expected with a player his age. Devers is younger than most of the prospects in the Red Sox farm system!

As tantalizing as Devers’ potential is, a Red Sox team fighting for the division crown can’t afford to rely on a struggling youngster who has been slightly below replacement level. Beltre may be almost twice his age but he’s still proven to be more valuable this year with 1.4 WAR.

Beltre is hitting .314 with a .821 OPS this season. He’s no longer the power threat that Devers can be but he’s a better overall hitter at this stage of their respective careers. He also remains solid in the field with only seven errors and 5 defensive runs saved.

Beltre’s veteran leadership could be a positive influence on Devers, aiding his development at the plate and in the field. His age prevents Beltre from playing every day so Devers can still see some time at the hot corner. He can also serve as the DH, with J.D. Martinez seeing more time in the outfield at the expense of the struggling Jackie Bradley Jr.

The veteran represents a clear short-term upgrade. Even if he’s worth only about an extra win over the course of the remaining schedule, that could be the difference between winning the division and settling for a Wild Card.

Acquiring Beltre is not without risks.

Cafardo’s article lists the Indians, Braves, and Phillies among potential suitors, so Beltre won’t be cheap with plenty of competition. The depleted Red Sox farm system doesn’t have much to offer and they won’t give up their best prospects for a rental. They may not have the chips to get a deal done unless the Rangers have interest in an expendable player from their major league roster. Maybe they still see value in Blake Swihart? Don’t bet on it.

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Salary is another consideration. Beltre is making $18 million this season so the Red Sox would owe what’s left of his salary once he’s acquired. That would most likely push them into the deepest territory of luxury tax penalties. Is Beltre enough of an upgrade to pay that price?

There’s also the chance that trading for his replacement at third base, even a temporary one, shatters the confidence of Devers. A short-term upgrade isn’t worthwhile if it derails the development of a promising young player.

Beltre would provide the Red Sox with a defensive upgrade at third, fill their need for a right-handed bat who can hit lefties, and provide another leader in the clubhouse for their young core to lean on. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s proven he can thrive in Boston.

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For all these reasons, Boston should be keeping an eye on the market for Beltre. Just note that there are risks that hardly make the move a no-brainer. Beltre could be the missing piece that helps hold off the Yankees this year. It also could cost them another piece of their future.