The Red Sox are on the verge of adding a new third baseman, agreeing to the framework of a one-year deal with Adrian Beltre for roughly $9 million, CBSSports.com has confirmed.
The deal, contingent on Beltre passing a physical examination and with a vesting option for a second year that is believed to be worth $5 million, is another move toward general manager Theo Epstein's goal of improving Boston's defense without taking away from run production. Beltre is a two-time Gold Glove winner who batted .265 with eight homers and 44 RBI last season in Seattle.
Boston clearly was headed in a different direction at third base for 2010, and the failed Mike Lowell trade to Texas didn't deter the Sox.
At 30, Beltre is five years younger than Lowell. And though Beltre long since has lost his 48-homer power (his career-high came in 2004, his last season with the Dodgers), the thinking is his offensive numbers should improve in Fenway Park as opposed to Seattle's pitcher-friendly Safeco Field. Until he was slowed by a groin injury that limited him to 111 games last summer, Beltre had hit 25, 26 and 25 home runs over the previous three seasons.
Spring training in Fort Myers could be awkward if the Red Sox are unable to trade Lowell before he theoretically proves this spring that his surgically repaired thumb is healthy. The trade with Texas -- which still could be renewed -- was nixed by the Rangers when physicians determined that Lowell was in need of surgery.
Lowell underwent thumb surgery last week, and recovery time is expected to be six-to-eight weeks. It is still expected that the Red Sox will trade him, it's just a question of whether it happens before or during spring training.