The third baseman had just come off a less-than-stellar season in Seattle, and the thought was that he'd at best be a defensive contributor to the Red Sox.
As it turned out, he wasn't all that great of a fielder, but he turned out to be one heck of a hitter.
Now, he's in a position of power, a free agent ready to let Scott Boras find the highest bidder.
Though teams will be somewhat hesitant to sign him to a big contract because of the way he performed after his last megadeal, his production in 2010 was far too great to keep teams away.
So, in the early stages of this year's offseason, here's a guess at the five teams most likely to land Beltre.
The Cubs haven't been rumored to be in on Beltre, so this requires some imagination. But with Aramis Ramirez in the final year of his contract, coming off a season in which he hit .241, maybe Jim Hendry will make a play. Beltre does own a career .324 average with four homers and 18 RBIs in 19 games in Wrigley Field.
4. Red Sox
Beltre was the team's offensive MVP in 2010, hitting .321 with 28 homers, 102 RBIs and a .919 OPS. Though the Sox may be thinking long term and could be looking to sign first baseman Adrian Gonzalez to a monster deal next winter (and moving Kevin Youkilis across the diamond to third base as a result), they're likely to at least make a play for Beltre.
The career of Eric Chavez is likely over (it definitely is with the A's, at least), and GM Billy Beane reportedly offered Beltre a long-term deal last season. After watching him perform as well as he did, it's hard to believe the A's lost interest.
2. Blue Jays
New manager John Farrell watched Beltre in person last season, and second-year GM Alex Anthopoulos has a chance to make his first big splash in free agency. The Jays had Edwin Encarnacion at third base, but his .244 average shouldn't keep the team from pursuing other options.
The Halos will go after Carl Crawford, but if they don't they'll need to add Beltre. The player may be happy to join the team, as his family lives on the West Coast. Beltre has hit a modest .268 with 10 homers and 39 RBIs in 64 games in Angel Stadium, but he was fairly unbelievable in Orange County this year, hitting a single, double, triple and home run in 13 at-bats.
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