At the time, the choice for the Boston Red Sox was between two Adrians: Beltre and Gonzalez. Betlre, at the time, had come off an extremely good bounce back season with the Red Sox, hitting .321 with 28 home runs, 102 RBI, 84 runs scored and a career high 49 doubles. Gonzalez, on the other hand, had been the apple for general manager Theo Epstein's eye for the longest of times. Gonzalez had hit 30-plus for four straight seasons with the Padres with an excellent approach at the plate.
A deal with Beltre would eventually wind up costing five years, $80 million with a 2016 vesting option while a deal for Gonzalez cost the Red Sox three top prospects, Casey Kelly, Reymond Fuentes and Anthony Rizzo.
What happens if the Red Sox sign Beltre instead of going after Gonzalez?
The most significant impact that re-signing Beltre would've had has to do with the first baseman situation. When the Red Sox traded for Adrian Gonzalez, the team moved Gold Glove first baseman Kevin Youkilis back to third base. With Youkilis' contract expiring after the 2012 season, Anthony Rizzo likely would've slid right into first base for the next decade. Rizzo, still only 24-years-old, began to show the potential that made him one of the top first base prospects in all of baseball prior to the Gonzalez trade.
In 2013, which would have likely been Rizzo's first season with the Red Sox full-time, he hit .233 with 23 home runs, 80 RBI with a .323 on-base percentage anchoring a Cubs lineup where he had next to no protection.
Beltre staying at third base from 2011 through at least 2015 would mean that the Red Sox would have tried to either move Will Middlebrooks to a new position or have traded him. Beltre's contract expiring in 2015 or 2016 also would have paved the way for Garin Cecchini to take over the job when Beltre's contract expired.
What seemingly remains unaffected by the Beltre deal would be the Carl Crawford albatross contract signed before the 2011 season. Crawford was signed in part to make a splashy move in effort to make the team more appealing to the common person. Without the Gonzalez (the player the Dodgers ultimately wanted in the Nick Punto-to-Dodgers Trade), the Red Sox are still likely stuck with Crawford toiling in injury, manning the Green Monster.
The Crawford contract likely, at least, inhibits the Red Sox from signing Dustin Pedroia to an extension and prevents the team from pursuing a Lester extension.
So far in his time in Texas, Beltre has been absolutely fantastic. In his first three seasons with the Rangers, the 35-year-old has averaged a .312 batting average with 33 home runs, 100 RBI, a .356 on-base percentage and a .542 slugging percentage, all while playing Gold Glove defense at third base. Beltre has pushed himself into potential Hall of Fame territory with his late career resurgence.
Whether or not the Red Sox would have won the 2013 World Series is completely up in the air, considering the major impact the Nick Punto trade had on completely turning around the franchise in 2012. That being said, signing Adrian Beltre to a five-year deal definitely would not have been a mistake for the Red Sox in 2011.