10 years ago Wednesday, the Red Sox formally introduced third baseman Adrian Beltre to the media at Fenway Park four days after agreeing to a one-year, $10 million deal with the then-30-year-old infielder.
In his brief stint donning a Sox uniform, Beltre was productive, slashing .321/.365/.553 with 28 home runs, 102 RBI, and an American League-leading 49 doubles over 154 games played. Impressive enough to earn his first All-Star nod, his second career Silver Slugger Award, and a top-nine finish in AL MVP voting.
The Red Sox, meanwhile, were not as impressive as a whole that season, as the club finished 89-73, good for third place in a competitive American League East, and failed to qualify for postseason play.
Come that following January, Beltre had done well to re-establish his value as one of the better third baseman in baseball after turbulent times in Los Angeles and Seattle, eventually cashing in by agreeing to a six-year deal with the Texas Rangers worth $96 million, or $16 million per season.
Because the Red Sox offered the Dominican Republic native a qualifying offer prior to his departure to Texas, the club was rewarded with two compensation picks in that year’s amateur draft. Two picks that fell in the top 40.
So, after selecting University of Connecticut right-hander Matt Barnes with their first and own pick at No. 19, Theo Epstein and Co. made the choice to go with a promising high school catcher out of Rio Rancho, New Mexico in Blake Swihart with their first of the two Beltre compensation picks at No. 26.
This move may have raised eyebrows at the time, as Swihart was locked in on playing college baseball at the University of Texas at Austin, but by offering a signing bonus of $2.5 million, they convinced the 19-year-old to sign.
Fast forward to later in the first round, with high school southpaw Henry Owens already drafted with the 36th overall pick, and the Sox made a statement with their second and final Beltre pick.
Yes, with the 40th overall selection, Boston selected University of South Carolina outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr.
Both Bradley Jr. and Swihart experienced their growing pains upon their promotions to the majors in April 2013 and May 2015 respectively, but to land the quality of prospects the Red Sox did for losing to Beltre to free agency was quite the accomplishment.
Think about it like this: for one season of Beltre, the Red Sox in turn received one of the best catching prospects in the game in Swihart, and one of the best outfield prospects in Bradley Jr.
Currently, it’s more like Boston acquired one of the best defensive center fielders in the American League in Bradley Jr. and, after trading Swihart to Arizona last April, outfield prospect Marcus Wilson.
That may sound a bit confusing, but in short, it was not a terrible trade-off despite Beltre going on to have a Hall of Fame career with the Rangers.
Also, I highly recommend reading Homegrown by The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier if you haven’t already. A quality read for any baseball fan.