Dave Cameron, of FanGraphs.com, posted an interesting <a href=”http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/beltres-market-value/”>article</a > this morning projecting the value of Adrian Beltre on the free agent market at 3 years, $45 million.

Agent Scott Boras wanted a multi-year deal for his client last winter… ultimately, he had to settle on a one-year deal with a low-end player option for 2011 (it’s a $5MM player option that becomes $10MM when he makes 640 plate appearances this year — which seems like a safe bet if he remains healthy). Based on the way he has played this year, it’s a foregone conclusion he will decline the option and hit the free agent market for the second consecutive year.

And it’s a near-certainty he’ll be a Type A free agent.

So what are the Sox to do? They don’t have a big-league-ready third baseman in the farm system… and the jury is out on how quickly Lars Anderson might be ready to take over at first (which would enable Kevin Youkilis to move back across the diamond to third base). Agent Scott Boras is likely to demand a 4- or 5-year deal and will take his client deep into free agency to get what he wants, so they will either have to pay the big bucks early or move on and take the draft picks… they will not want to get burned again by the uber-agent (like they did with 1B Mark Teixeira).

Beltre has been a great addition to the clubhouse and a perfect fit in the lineup, but the truth is he has only had two exceptional seasons (2004 and 2010) and GM Theo Epstein is not inclined to invest heavily in inconsistent ballplayers. So it says here they take the draft picks.

The front office could pursue the Adrian Gonzalez trade with the San Diego Padres. They could also look to re-sign soon-to-be free agent Billy Hall and ask him to hold a place in the lineup until Lars (or maybe Anthony Rizzo) is ready.

Or they could look to fill the void through free agency. Someone like Jorge Cantu or Jhonny Peralta or Ty Wiggington could fill the bill… or even Miguel Tejada.

Whatever happens, it will be an interesting decision, with long-term implications.

I think they get Gonzalez, IF the Padres are serious about dealing the face of their franchise… and it says here they’ll have to ship Casey Kelly and Lars Anderson westward to get the deal done.

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