It seems like the Texas Rangers are the new front-runners for third baseman Adrian Beltre's services. While an earlier rumor of a 6-year, $96 million deal were false, the two sides have been negotiating and are now close to a deal, according to Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes (link in Spanish).
The instant ramification for the Red Sox is a big boost to the draft pick they would be in line to receive. With Texas' first round pick unprotected, the Sox would grab the 26th pick in the 2011 draft instead of (presumably) the Angels' second round pick, which will come in around #65 when all is said and done. That would leave the Sox with four picks in the top-50--no small bonus when you consider the all-out approach the team is likely to take in a deep draft with the looming threat of a slot system that would eliminate their financial advantage.
Of some small consideration has to be the fact that it will make a strong team stronger, at least for the immediate future. Last year's AL Champions may be reeling from the loss of Cliff Lee, but the Rangers are still an incredibly good team, and if there is another park in the league likely to help sustain Beltre's offense, after all, it was Arlington. The road to the World Series could well go through Texas next year, just as many are expecting it to go through Fenway.
The Angels, meanwhile, are not necessarily pushovers with the return of Kendry Morales. But if they had been the winners of the Beltre sweepstakes, it's still hard to see them as top contenders. They would likely exchange blows with Texas for the AL West title, and possibly leave the wild card competition more heated. But even with Beltre it would have been a less-than-impressive offseason for a team that was thoroughly defeated in 2010.
I'll leave you with one final thought. What this potential deal shows is that the Sox were absolutely right to pursue Adrian Gonzalez as quickly as they did. As a result, no major trade talks opened up with other teams to confuse things, and the muddy market for Beltre early on made it appear as though the Sox had an out should they fail to pick him up.
I, for one, did not see Boras getting anywhere near the 6 years, $96 million that has been floated--instead pegging him for something more in the range of 4 years, $60 million. But if the figures have been that high despite reduced interest, just imagine if there was another player--a big one--looking to bring Beltre back. The Sox would be pretty crazy to give Beltre the money he might get, and now with Gonzalez at first and Youkilis at third, they won't have to even consider it