While the Red Sox struggled with injuries all season long, that did open the door for certain players to step up and shine. With some large paydays on the way for some impending free agents, it's worth asking whose stock rose the most this year?
At the top of many people's list will be third baseman Adrian Beltre. He came in with tempered expectations after a down year in Seattle, but he turned out to be arguably the team's MVP — and he's done it on some short money.
Beltre signed a one-year deal worth $10 million, with a one-year player option for $5 million (though he is on the verge of reaching milestones that will make it worth $10 million). It's safe to say Beltre will pass on that deal, as his .324 average, 28 home runs and 99 RBIs have him poised to become a major player in free agency this winter.
However, Beltre will come with a caveat, as he never could replicate his career year from 2004 in the following years in Seattle. Because those Mariners days came at a rather hefty price ($64 million over five years), teams could be hesitant to throw an expensive, long-term deal at Beltre.
Victor Martinez is certain to be in the discussion, too, especially after former battery mate CC Sabathia said Friday that Martinez likely won't be back with Boston in 2011 (for what that's worth). After making $7 million this season, the soon-to-be 32-year-old could be seeing a raise.
Martinez has made it clear that he wants to be a catcher, and it's probably not a coincidence that an All-Star-caliber catcher can make a killing on the open market. The fact that he's hitting around .300 and should finish with roughly 20 homers and 80 RBIs helps, too. He's even worked hard to improve his arm, as he's increased his caught stealing percentage from 14 percent in 2009 to 22 percent this year.
There's no way the Red Sox don't at least show interest in both Martinez and Beltre, but there's no way they get either back without handing over a pay raise.
They aren't the only ones, either. David Ortiz's situation has been well-documented, and he's set to either get overpaid for one year ($12.5 million option for 2011) or get set up with a two- or three-year deal worth more money. Having already hit the 30-homer mark, he's shown he's got pop left in his bat.
Martinez's backup has had a strong showing as well, with Jason Varitek finding a bit of a career renaissance early in the season. Though his offensive numbers cooled thereafter and he suffered an injury that shelved him for months, he said he's feeling as strong as ever and is ready to play again. His decent average (.240) and power (seven homers in 104 ABs) might earn him more than the $5 million he made this year.
While there are certainly some pay days on the horizon, whose stock has risen the most this year?
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