One of the Theo Epstein’s biggest priorities at the upcoming winter meetings will be to try to secure either a starting first- or third-baseman for the 2011 Red Sox, with Kevin Youkilis manning the other spot, depending on whom the Red Sox bring in.
With those meetings just days away, the team’s incumbent third baseman -- free agent Adrian Beltre -- said Monday he hopes to return to the Red Sox for next season and beyond.
“These guys are my friends and they made me feel part of the team,’’ he told the Boston Globe. “There’s a lot going on right now, but I do hope I stay with the Red Sox.’’
It’s unclear what kind of offer the Red Sox have on the table for Beltre, but the Oakland Athletics have been widely reported to have made a five-year, $64-million offer to the third baseman.
Officials of two clubs monitoring Beltre's negotiations told ESPN.com's Jayson Stark they believe Beltre could sign with the A's quickly, possibly as soon as Thursday. However, Beltre told the Globe he was taking his time.
“I could make a deal right now if I wanted to,’’ he said. “But I want to wait and make sure I make the right decision.’’
Beltre, who hit .321 with 28 homers and 102 RBIs last season for the Red Sox, also told the Globe he “liked the atmosphere” at Fenway Park and that all things being equal he would choose to return to the Red Sox. He also said, however, that the “number of years [in a contract] is what is important to me.”