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Red Sox Set Limit On Martinez And Beltre -- Is It Too Low?

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While the Red Sox had previously stated that retaining the services of Adrian Beltre and Victor Martinez were priorities for this offseason, it seems now that the Red Sox might not be willing to back up that determination with their wallet.

According to a report from Nick Cafardo, an unnamed source has indicated that the Red Sox will not be willing to go beyond 4 years and $52 million for Beltre, or a similar limit for Martinez.

As the premier third baseman and catcher on the market, it seems hard to imagine that this sort of deal will pull in either player. While both players are on the wrong side of 30 and have questions surrounding their ability to maintain their 2010 performances (immediately for Beltre, and in the near future for Martinez), $60 million seems like a more realistic figure, especially given the scarcity of quality free agents this offseason. Add in the Red Sox' low early offers to Victor Martinez and Adrian Beltre's desire to be closer to his family on the West Coast, and the Sox may have suddenly become outsiders in both races.

While losing both Beltre and Martinez could make this offseason an irredeemable failure to some, the Red Sox would presumably be forced to turn their attention to other marquee free agents or the trade market. Ratings and fan support slid last year as the Red Sox endured a frustrating, injury-filled season that ended early for the first time since 2006. Going into next season with money unspent would seem an inadvisable mistake.

If Beltre does not return, the Red Sox have shown their willingness to move Kevin Youkilis to third base, allowing them to look towards the more plentiful first baseman market (both in free agency and trade). They could also make use of Jed Lowrie at the hot corner, though the infielder has played primarily shortstop during his career.

Martinez would be rather harder to replace. Few believe that Jarrod Saltalamacchia is ready to take over as a full-time starting catcher, and the Red Sox' best catching prospects are still at least a year away. While the Sox were said to be actively pursuing John Buck, the Marlins just snatched him up (likely overpaying in the process). More interesting options may be available in the trade market, though. The Red Sox were linked to both Russell Martin and Chris Iannetta around the trade deadline earlier this year, though there's no guarantee that either catcher--particularly Iannetta--is still available.