Adrian Beltre’s Contract Revisited

Many pundits (myself included) applauded Boston’s contract with Adrian Beltre this past off-season. The one-year deal (with a player option) teetered on the balance of risk minimization and upside maximization perfectly. If Beltre performed well in 2010, he would appear underpaid. On the flip side, if Beltre had the worst season of his career he wouldn’t be paid too much in excess and given the cheap rate of his 2011 option, he would have the chance to even out any losses endured.

Even the added incentives are a stroke of well-placed foresight; Beltre’s 2011 option increases to $10 million with 640 plate appearances this season. Beltre has recorded at least 640 plate appearances three times in his career. His average (not per 162 games, per season) plate appearance total as a Mariner was 612. Even with the assumed bump thanks to an improved run environment, Beltre would only reach that total by staying healthy and performing well. And you know what, if he did that, and if that $10 million option were exercised as a result, he’d probably still be underpaid.

David Golebiewski covered Beltre under a more analytical tone a few weeks ago. I’ll defer in that aspet to him while quoting one of the more impressive feats offered:

In Boston, Beltre is enjoying his best season since that double-digit WAR total back in ’04. After a four-for-four night against the Rays, he’s batting .349/.387/.561 in 310 trips to the plate, with a .410 wOBA that ranks ninth among qualified major league hitters. He’s flashing the leather again, too, with +12.9 UZR/150. Beltre has already compiled 3.8 WAR this season, trailing only Justin Morneau, Robinson Cano and Carl Crawford among position players. With $15.1 million in Value Dollars, he has already more than justified Boston’s investment.

Perhaps the most fitting moment of the season occurred when Beltre hit a home run off Ben Sheets last night. You see, the Athletics lusted after the third baseman too. Some reports even had Oakland offering more financial security than Boston. Yet, Beltre spurned the added fortune for Boston. In the aftermath, Oakland gave that money to Sheets. That home run won’t make Ken Burns next baseball documentary or anything; for Oakland it’s just proof that the ways of the universe are sometimes utterly cruel.

And for Beltre it’s proof that sometimes betting on yourself is a worthwhile venture.




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17 Responses to “Adrian Beltre’s Contract Revisited”

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  1. tdotsports1 says:

    If there was a Mr. Fangraphs pageant, would Adrian Beltre be the top contender?

    I’d go Beltre or Longoria.

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  2. Matty Brown says:

    I think a mr. Fangraphs pageant would be a very amusing and interesting series. We all know there are certain players that we here at FG swoon over while the mass media and populous overlook them.

    I am envisioning some voting set-up; possibly a March Madness style head-to-head bracket for the most voted upon current players.

    Since Dave finished the Trade Value series, maybe he could sink his teeth into this.

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  3. Jocro says:

    That would be pretty awesome. Although Jason Kendall would probably win. More grit.

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  4. NBarnes says:

    Fun idea in theory, but in practice we all know it’s Longoria.

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  5. defense says:

    Adam Everett circa 2005 would do pretty well in the pageant. I always wonder how valuable he would have been if he had just been a league average or *gasp*, above-average offensive player! He was amazing defensively in the day.

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  6. pft says:

    The Red Sox were hoping for a contract year from Adrian. For the same reason, they know Beltres contract years are 1 year affairs. Some team will give Beltre the contract he wants over 3-4 years, and at the end will wonder what happened to his bat. It won’t be the Red Sox. Remember 2004, the Red Sox do.

    And it’s not all on SAFECO. Beltre has a 1011 road OPS this year, that far exceeds his road OPS while with the Mariners. Last time he had a 1000+ OPS road split, was 2004.

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    • TreyIII says:

      Even if Beltre reverts back to his career norms, I would be extremely satisfied with a .275/.335/.485 3B who plays GG defense for the next 3-4 years. While not a superstar, he’s easily worth 4 wins a year.

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  7. Makel says:

    His ’04 season is still one of the most fascinating things to me. I checked this a few months back, so I may be wrong, but I think he’s the only position player this decade to have a double-digit WAR season not named Bonds or A-Rod. And the crazy thing is when you look at what he did as a teenager, at the levels he did it at, that’s the kind of player he could’ve been, a superstar/HoFer instead of just a really good player. Not to mention all of the other interesting things about Beltre.

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  8. Crumpled Stiltskin says:

    The most surprising thing about Beltre is that he’s actually hit quite a bit better on the road than at home. His road numbers are basically as good as 2004, and his home numbers while quite a bit better than his away splits while playing for Seattle are more than good enough to justify Boston’s investment, but nothing to get extremely excited about, and you would have thought he was completely tailor made for Fenway. So Safeco was a bad environment for him, but there’s something else up as well.

    The ultimate player in a hitting environment particularly not suited to his skills is James Loney. Until this year, when his home-road splits are basically even, I think he had over .200 point difference in OPS home and away in his career, with his OPS near .700 at home and near .900 away. A guy primed for a challenge trade. A team like Pittsburgh should probably look at a guy like him, as his next contract is likely to be lower than it should be (given that he signs in an anywhere near decent hitting environment), and it looks like he can probably perform as a borderline top-10 player for his position.

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    • Rich says:

      “The most surprising thing about Beltre is that he’s actually hit quite a bit better on the road than at home. ”

      I haven’t had a chance to see a lot of Red Sox games lately, but IIRC, during the first month of the season, Beltre hit about 20 fly balls into the “corner” out in center field in Fenway, where its about 420 feet. Not a lot of balls get out of there.

      Early on, it almost looked like Fenway was a bad park for him.. just unlucky I guess.

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  9. frightwig says:

    I’d feel happier for Beltre, except it would have been nice to see him post just ONE of these MVP-caliber seasons in the 5 years he was pulling a hefty chunk from the Mariners payroll. Instead, Seattle got some nice glovework and a few decent years at the plate, sandwiched by a couple years of poor production, for its investment. I’m not saying he totally sucked, but he was kind of disappointing.

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    • Judy says:

      If it makes you feel any better, the Mariners left fielders’ ribs had a much better survival rate around Beltre than the Red Sox left fielders have had. And his defense so far in Boston has at least seemed disappointing compared to what we expected. And he won’t be there long.

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  10. Kevin says:

    I think Theo is smart enough to sign their best player from this year. The sox want him back and i think he wants to be back a healthy and rejuvinated line-up would be great for the sox. Beltre is a key to the secuess in 2011.

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  11. Guessing how many March Madness basket ball lovers are making their friends crazy!

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