Trade rumor sesason is officially in full swing. Over the weekend, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reported that the Red Sox are on a short list of teams interested in acquiring Adrian Beltre before the July 31 trading deadline, after the Rangers made him available.
The Phillies, Braves and Indians were also listed as teams that have interest in Beltre, who would come as a rental. At this point, there isn’t really any indication of what the Rangers would be looking for in return. Beltre has no-trade protection because of his 10-and-5 rights, which means he’s played at least 10 total years and five with the same team. So that could add a wrinkle into the asking price for him.
But assuming the Red Sox have the pieces within their farm system to get a deal done, Beltre could come as a decent upgrade for the rest of the season, but it could also be a misguided move.
It would be a similar argument against trading for Manny Machado. The Red Sox should not want to displace Rafael Devers. The difference here, though, is that trading for Beltre would presumably not cost the Red Sox Devers, like reports say it would for Machado.
A trade for a rental 39 year-old rental third baseman could actually be good for the Red Sox and for Devers. In this case, it would take the pressure off Devers of playing every day. Also, it’s no secret that Devers’ defense is a work in progress. A guy like Beltre, who has won five Gold Gloves – with the most recent one being in 2016 – could help mentor Devers as a (hopefully) future star third baseman.
Besides that, Devers’ splits against lefties this year are honestly pretty terrible. He’s slashing .228/.247/.367 with a 68 sOPS+. This looks even worse compared to Beltre’s .333/.388/.429 slash line and 127 sOPS+. There is even a massive difference in BAbip where Devers is .263 and Beltre is .412. And as a team, the Red Sox are not good against lefties either. So the addition of Beltre could help.
Though this looks good on face value, it still wouldn’t really work. To get Beltre playing time every day, he would probably have to slide into the DH spot on days the team faces a righty. That would force J.D. Martinez into the outfield, where Jackie Bradley Jr. would be the odd man out. If anything, the Red Sox want Bradley playing against righties instead of lefties, against whom he has a .151 average and .432 OPS. But whether or not Bradley should be playing and when is a whole other discussion.
There is a good chance that Devers’ development could actually be hindered by Beltre coming in. He’s only 21. The Red Sox let a 20 year-old Xander Bogaerts have a chance to shine in their World Series run in 2013 and then stuck with him through his struggles in 2014. Yes, Devers has been below average and even bad at some points throughout the year. But he’s shown flashes of improvement and that he’s willing to put in the work. Now probably isn’t the time to pump the breaks on his development, especially when there are bigger areas of need on the team.
Adrian Beltre could definitely be an upgrade at third base for the Red Sox. But looking past his slash line, he isn’t having the kind of season that we’ve come to expect from him. He only has four homeruns and 25 RBI. His 10 doubles are encouraging, but this is far off from what we’ve become accustomed to seeing from Beltre.
Acquiring him would possibly improve the Red Sox overall, but only slightly. It wouldn’t be addressing one of their bigger areas of need: the bullpen, second base and maybe even the outfield. They should focus on using what little assets they have to bring in someone who will plug a hole and not someone who could possibly stunt the development of a promising young player.
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