July 19, 2019

Beltre Signs With The Rangers… And The Red Sox Keep Getting Richer

January 9, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

I posted this article about Adrian Beltre’s new contract with Texas on my website a few days ago… I am re-publishing a portion of that article here today:

As the 2010 season unfolded, the Red Sox front office declared it was interested in re-signing soon-to-be-free-agents Adrian Beltre and Victor Martinez. And as the off-season began GM Theo Epstein insisted retaining both players was one of the organization’s top priorities. But actions speak louder than words. The Red Sox failed to make a substantive offer to either player and watched as both departed for other destinations.

Back in November, I wrote that it was unlikely the Red Sox would make an earnest effort to re-sign either player (or infielder Felipe Lopez, a Type B free agent who remains unsigned) because they “will want the draft picks in what is expected to be a VERY deep 2011 draft”.  Not only will 2011 be a deep draft, but with anticipated changes to future drafts, it is also expected to be the last draft in which teams like the Red Sox (and Yankees) will be able to load up on talent by signing players for above-slot signing bonuses.

In hindsight, the Sox approach to Beltre and Martinez was an obvious strategy for Epstein and the Sox ownership in consideration of their professed (though not always practiced) approach to building an organization.

The Red Sox organization will receive two picks apiece for the loss of Beltre and Martinez, and another pick if (when) Lopez signs, in the June draft. [NOTE: Lopez was signed in September for the expressed purpose of obtaining an extra draft pick when he signs as a free agent). Depending on what ultimately happens with free agent closer Rafael Soriano, they’ll likely get the first round pick from the Tigers (#19) and the Rangers (#26), plus two picks in the supplemental round. They will receive a compensation round pick for losing Lopez.

They traded three of their Top Ten prospects in exchange for former San Diego 1B Adrian Gonzalez and surrendered their own first round pick for signing LF Carl Crawford, but the loss of those prospects and draft pick are offset by the compensatory picks they will get for Beltre and Martinez. It is an interesting approach to building a team… would you rather have Beltre and Martinez and Kelly/Rizzo/Fuentes and a first round pick in June, or Crawford and Gonzalez and six picks in the first two rounds of one of the deepest drafts in recent memory?

With the switch of Youkilis across the diamond, Gonzalez effectively replaces Beltre. He is younger and has proven to be a far more consistent run-producer than Beltre (who has had only a couple of decent years, both times in the final year of his contract). Texas gave Beltre five (or six) years at $80 MM (or $96 MM). In that equation, I’ll take Gonzalez.

Crawford essentially replaces Martinez on the roster and in the lineup, where he is expected to bat third. He will also provide the ballclub with outstanding defense. He is not a long-term answer to the team’s dilemma behind home plate, but he is an impact player both at the plate and in the field, albeit at a higher price tag. Again, I’ll take the new guy.

Would you rather have the three traded prospects and the Sox’ first and second round picks in the upcoming draft, or a total of six picks in the first two rounds of the upcoming draft? That question is much harder to answer and calls for a great deal of conjecture. The analysis depends on whether the Sox ultimately sign Gonzalez to a long-term contract extension (the supposition here is that they will). With that said, we know the following:

Casey Kelly was the Red Sox #1 prospect. He now calls the San Diego organization home. He has a tremendous amount of potential, but he is still young and he struggled mightily in Double-A ball last season. He has been replaced as the team’s top pitching prospect by former LSU standout Anthony Ranaudo, a 6’7″ right-hander who has top-of-the-rotation potential and who was impressive in the Cape Cod League this past summer. The Red Sox have Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Josh Beckett and John Lackey in the rotation for years to come, and Daisuke Matsuzaka in the rotation for the next couple of years (barring a trade). They also have Tim Wakefield waiting in the wings in case of injuries or struggles. To an extent, Kelly and Ranaudo were redundant commodities. Ranaudo made Kelly expendable.

Gonzalez made Rizzo (and Lars Anderson?) expendable… again, assuming they sign him to a long-term extension.

Fuentes is a decent prospect, but raw. They have a similar outfielder in Jacoby Ellsbury… and now they have added Carl Crawford. They also have Ryan Kalish waiting in the wings. All of this means the Red Sox outfield is pretty well set for the foreseeable future. Because Fuentes is raw and his future cannot be assured, he too was redundant… and expendable.

The ballclub will likely have two picks in the first round and two more in the supplemental round, meaning they should have four of the first 50 picks (+/-). It will have at least one more pick in the second round (and another compensation round pick if Lopez signs elsewhere). Therefore, the club will have as many as five of the first 50 picks (+/-) and six of the first 75 picks (+/-) in the draft.

The first six players the Red Sox selected in last year’s draft are all numbered among the organizations top twenty-one prospects: Ranaudo (#3), Kolbrin Vitek (#8), Brandon Workman (#15), Sean Coyle (#17), Garin Cecchini (#18) and Bryce Brentz (#21). If the organization is able to repeat those results in the upcoming draft, the strategy the front office employed this off-season will have been a resounding success.

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