Adrian Beltre is expected to sign a two-year deal with the Red Sox, a contract valued at $10 million for the first season.

–(– 01/04/2010 – Most Popular industry news provided by Financial News USA. Needing offense to keep up with the New York Yankees and a third baseman to replace an aging and ailing Mike Lowell(notes), the Boston Red Sox on Monday agreed to the framework of a two-year contract with free-agent third baseman Adrian Beltre, according to league sources.

Lowell, a Fenway favorite and a part of World Series teams in Florida (2003) and Boston (2007), was nearly traded to Texas last month, but a physical examination revealed a need for thumb surgery, which Lowell has undergone.

It is unclear what the Red Sox intend to do with Lowell, who has another year – at $12 million – left on his contract. David Ortiz is the regular DH and Beltre is the best third baseman in the league. Conceivably, they could platoon Lowell and the left-handed hitting Ortiz at DH. More likely, they’ll work again to trade him, perhaps returning to talks with the Rangers. There were rumors Monday the New York Mets could have interest in Lowell as a first baseman.

Meantime, Beltre likely would bat sixth, behind Ortiz, in the Red Sox lineup. While the Red Sox added John Lackey to their starting rotation, the offense remained a concern, particularly with the Yankees upgrading with Curtis Granderson in center field, and in spite of recent Marco Scutaro and Mike Cameron acquisitions. Jason Bay, who led them in home runs and RBIs last season, recently signed with the Mets.

Details of the contract still are being ironed out, but sources indicate that Beltre is expected to be paid $10 million in 2010. The second year is potentially at the player’s option, depending on reaching a plate-appearance plateau.

Beltre debuted with the Dodgers in 1998 just 2½ months after his 19th birthday and experienced the usual growing pains at the plate while developing into one of the better third basemen in the league. Then in 2004 – his walk year – he batted .334, hit 48 home runs and drove in 121 runs.

He signed a five-year, $64-million contract with the Mariners after that season, and over the life of the deal never batted .280 or hit 30 home runs or drove in 100 in a season. The production slide was attributed to Seattle’s Safeco Field, which swallowed Beltre’s fly balls and turned him back into a pull hitter.

He continued to be a solid and spectacular third baseman, however, winning Gold Gloves in 2007 and ’08, when Oakland’s Eric Chavez(notes) was slowed by injuries. Sources indicate Beltre woke up Monday morning measuring offers from both the Red Sox and A’s About Financial News USA

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