Adrian Beltré cemented his ticket into the Hall of Fame last season after recording his 3,000th hit on a Sunday afternoon in July.
As a Red Sox fan, there can only be one thought: frustration.
You have to be frustrated that the Sox allowed Beltré to walk and sign with the Texas Rangers after a phenomenal year with Boston in 2010.
After playing for Seattle for five seasons and the Dodgers for seven years to begin his career, Beltré signed a one-year contract with the Red Sox before the 2010 season. In 2009, Beltré had arguably the worst season of his career with the Mariners. He hit just .265 with eight home runs and 44 RBIs. He was also hurt and only played 111 out of 162 games.
In 2010, Beltré had what one would call a “bounce-back year” with the Red Sox.
I would say so.
That year, Beltré hit .321 with 28 home runs, 102 RBIs, and a career-high 49 doubles. He also played Gold Glove-caliber defense at third base. It was simply an MVP type of year.
For whatever godforsaken reason, the Sox did not re-sign Beltré. Maybe they thought he could not play as well as he did? Maybe they did not want to pay him the money?
Well, Texas did not have those fears, and they signed Beltré to a six-year, $96 million deal. Beltré actually lived up to the contract, something that can not be said about many contracts the Red Sox have handed out this decade. Beltré played so well for the Rangers during the deal that they signed him last year to a two-year, $36 million contract extension.
In seven seasons with the Rangers, Beltré has averaged hitting .308 with 26 home runs and 91 RBIs per year. For $16 million per season, I would say Beltré was worth the investment.
Since 2011, the Red Sox have had a number of different third basemen. Those include Kevin Youkilis, Xander Bogaerts, Will Middlebrooks, Brock Holt, Eduardo Nunez, Rafael Devers, Pablo Sandoval, and many others. Some of those players had good years for the Sox, such as Youkilis and Bogaerts. However, none of those players can compare to Beltré.
In the last seven years, while the Red Sox were mixing and matching third basemen, Beltré has produced at a consistent and high rate for the Rangers. The Red Sox surely could have used that middle-of-the-order bat at third base, especially in the last few years.
Although Devers provided a spark in the second half of last season, before his call-up, the third base position was an absolute disaster. The main guy who started the crisis was Mr. Panda himself, Pablo Sandoval. In 2015, the Red Sox signed Panda to a five-year, $95 million deal, eerily similar to Beltré’s contract with the Rangers. The big difference is that Panda was a career .275 hitter who only hit about 15 home runs per season. He did have great postseason success, but his overall numbers were nowhere close to Beltré’s.
I don’t have to be the one to tell you that the Sandoval deal was terrible. But when you compare his contract to Beltré’s, it makes the deal look even worse.
In this decade, letting Beltré walk was one of the worst moves by the Red Sox organization. Obviously, there have been a lot of bad decisions, so it is hard to pick one that is the worst. Electing to not re-sign Jon Lester and trading him to the A’s was a terrible decision. Trading Andrew Miller to the Orioles clearly turned out to be the wrong move. Not re-signing Victor Martinez looks bad in hindsight. Paying Carl Crawford and Sandoval big contracts was clearly a mistake.
But the Beltré decision is quietly one of the worst moves by the Red Sox organization in the last 15 years. The Red Sox actually had a free agent who played well at Fenway Park from the beginning, and they let him walk???
It is easy to think about the all of the success Beltré could have had for the Red Sox. We saw the potential in just one season. The green monster was made for his swing and it showed with his 49 doubles.
Instead of receiving a standing ovation at Fenway for his 3,000th hit last year, he was wearing the blue and red for the Rangers.
Beltré will start his 21st major league season in 2018. He is 38 years old and it is hard to know how many more years he has left in the tank. However, one thing is certain: When Adrian Beltré decides to call it quits, he will go down as a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
There are many moves that the Red Sox regret over the years, but not re-signing Beltré has to be at the top of the list.