The Red Sox made a trade last night. They had to give up a pitcher to acquire Aaron Hill. Hill is needed to platoon with Travis Shaw. I like the move but it is scary that the Sox had to give up an arm when the Sox need all the arms they can get right now. It is also a bit nauseating to think how the Sox got into such an awful spot when it comes to third base. It could have been much different. Just ask the Texas Rangers.
In 2010 Theo Epstein decided to put an emphasis on defense and run prevention. As part of this focus he signed Adrian Beltre to play third base on a one year deal. It was a win-win for player and team. Beltre could prove he was worthy of a big contract and the Sox would have a very motivated player who is one of the best defensive third baseman of all time.
Beltre didn't disappoint:
His numbers were incredible but his highlights were even better. He was not only a great player but so much fun to watch.
Red Sox fans didn't appreciate him though because all they could think of was Adrian Gonzalez. Red Sox fans and the front office had been lusting after Gonzalez for years and it was almost a certainty that in the off-season the Red Sox would go hard after Gonzalez who was officially being put on the trading block by the San Diego Padres.
Adrian Gonzalez arrived in the off-season before the 2011 season. His acquistion moved fan favorite Kevin Youkilis from first base to third base. This led to the Red Sox not making an effort to retain the free agent services of Adrian Beltre. Beltre would sign with the Rangers on a five year deal worth $80 million or $16 million a year.
Gonzalez would put up big numbers for the Sox in 2011 and 2012 but struggled to fit in with the Red Sox clubhouse and was eventually traded to the Dodgers. Youkilis, the fan favorite, regressed so quickly that he was off the Red Sox roster before the 2012 season even ended. Meanwhile, Adrian Beltre thrived.
Hindsight being 20/20, the Sox could have traded for Gonzalez, dealt Youkilis for some prospects or MLB talent and signed Beltre to a long term deal. Much of the Sox issues would have been solved then and solved now.
Looking back, it looks awful for the Red Sox. Let's go year by year. I will include Adrian Gonzalez in the comparison because even though Gonzalez didn't replace Beltre, the acquisition of Gonzalez was the reason given for not trying to bring back Beltre.
|2011 Beltre||.296||32||105||0.892||5.8||$14 million|
|2011 Youkilis||.258||17||80||0.833||3.9||$12.25 million|
|2011 Gonzalez||.338||27||117||0.957||6.9||$6.3 million|
After 2011 you could make a case that the Sox made the right decision. Gonzalez looked to be the real deal and Youkilis was still productive.
|2012 Beltre||.321||36||102||.921||7.2||$15 million|
|2012 Gonzalez||.300||15||86||.812||3||$21 million|
2012 was a nightmare. Gonzalez and Youkilis would be traded and Will Middlebrooks would enter the picture. Middlebrooks showed promise and Red Sox fans were hoping he could become a superstar making the decision to let Beltre walk not look so bad.
|2013 Beltre||.315||30||92||.880||5.6||$16 million|
The Red Sox would win it all in 2013 but Middlebrooks started to struggle. Xander Bogaerts started to take over the third base position in the postseason. The Red Sox were paying the league minimum in salary for the position and were getting the minimum production.
|2014 Beltre||.324||19||77||.879||7||$17 million|
After the 2014 season it was clear that Will Middlebrooks was not the answer and the Xander Bogaerts experiment at third base was also not working. The Sox headed into that off-season looking to right the wrong that they made four years earlier. They would go after a big time third baseman and pay up. Pablo Sandoval was that guy and the Sox would pay him $17.6 million a year, $1.6 million than Beltre would make in 2015.
|2015 Beltre||.287||18||83||.788||5.8||$16 million|
|2015 Sandoval||.245||10||47||.658||-0.9||$17.6 million|
That brings us to 2016 and Travis Shaw. Shaw has shown some promise but has struggled a bit defensively and has struggled to hit left handed pitching. These struggles prompted the Sox to make the trade for Aaron Hill.
|2016 Beltre||.280||12||53||.777||3.1||$16 million|
Shaw is a bargain compared to Beltre but you have to factor in Pablo Sandoval's $17.6 million on the disabled list. After all, Sandoval was signed to play third base every day. Sandoval was signed to right a wrong. Sandoval was signed to make you forget about Adrian Beltre. Have you forgotten? I haven't.