When the Red Sox inked Adrian Beltre on Jan. 5 to a $10 million contract, the club completed its retooling effort that restructured their persona with youth, health and a vastly improved defense.
But the signing of Beltre came a catch.
Beltre's deal is significant for the makeup of this Red Sox team, but it's only a one-year agreement. The summer of 2011 and beyond — that's another story entirely.
Beltre turns 31 shortly after Opening Day. He's still got plenty of good years left — productive ones at that. Are we another old Scott Boras trick?
Here's what we know: Beltre is just coming off a down year in 2009 where he struggled to stay healthy and managed just eight home runs — his lowest total in a decade. It was bad timing for the former All-Star third baseman who was in a contract year, as his stock hit an all-time low.
So what does Boras do? He uses the one-year contract as a quick fix. It's a comfortable fall-back option for Beltre and the superagent.
"A 'pillow contract' is, basically, you lay down, it?s comfortable, it?s soft, it?s there," Boras told the Herald Sunday. "But the fact of the matter is it?s not with you all the time. That?s a one-year contract. Your pillow, you leave it, you come back, it?s there. Short-term, you use it for a little bit, then you move on."
If healthy, Beltre can play a capable third base and 25 homers, no problem. Give him a year, and he'll be a big-money free agent again. And the Red Sox know this. They could have locked him up long-term, knowing he'd be a marquee player down the road, similar to what they did with Mike Lowell.
When the Sox landed Lowell as a throw-in in the Josh Beckett deal, they picked him up with two years and $18 million left on his contract and were praying for the slugger to have a bounce-back season after a disappointing campaign in South Beach with the Marlins. Sure enough, Lowell stepped up and when those two successful years were up, they eagerly sat down with him to negotiate for three years and $37.5 million more.
With Beltre, the Sox are hoping to see a similar pattern. All signs point to Beltre having a solid season in Boston in 2010. And if he does, he'll make himself a very rich man a year from now. But if things don't work out, he's still got a player option to return to Boston. Once again, Boras has all the bases covered.