Rumour has it that the Texas Rangers are close to signing free agent third baseman Adrian Beltre to a six-year deal worth $96-million (a guaranteed $80-million over five years). This deal has been on and off more times than Brett Favre’s career (too easy?), but it appears to be ‘on’ again as reported by Yahoo! Sports’ Tim Brown.
This deal makes sense on a few levels for Texas and none on a few others. Beltre is a solid player. He’s one of the best defensive third-baggers in the game and has been for years and is a solid contributor with the stick. The problem is he’s always far better in walk-years than in any other year.
Take away Beltre’s two biggest free-agent seasons in 2004 and 2010 (not counting his ’09 walk-year with the Mariners which was injury-plagued) and Beltre goes from a career average .275/.328/.462 to a .264/.318/.435, which is more likely what you’ll get from him going forward. Throw in the fact that he’ll be 37 when the deal is done, and like most marquee free agent pickups, this one might turn sour on the Rangers.
By the way, Beltre’s line in his two walk years is a stupid .328/.377/.591. Like the Mariners before them, the Rangers will likely pay for a slash line similar to that rather than what he does in every other year.
There are two other aspects to this deal that need to be considered as well: one good, one bad.
The good: The other two major suitors for Beltre’s services were two of Texas’ division rivals in the Angels and A’s. Texas swooping in and grabbing Beltre certainly hurts both of their rivals, especially the Angels who have now lost out on every major free agent they were said to be in on. It has been a disastrous offseason for the Halos so far.
The bad: What to do with Michael Young? The Rangers’ defensively inept third baseman will either be traded (which will be hard considering he’s owed $48-million over the next three seasons) or have to endure yet another position change. Every time Young is asked to move positions which he’ll now have to do for the third time, he complains, asks for a trade and then eventually settles down and accepts his new lot in life.
The problem is that this time Young will be asked to move either to first base or DH, two positions which are high offensive positions and Young is in full offensive decline, posting OPS numbers well below his career average in three of the last four seasons; don’t let his 21 HR and 91 RBI in 2010 fool you.
In comparison to some of the wacky contracts that have been handed out since the Giants won their first World Series in San Francisco, this one won’t be the worst; but it’s still curious.
This also very likely means Vladimir Guerrero won’t be returning to Arlington, priming him for a possible return to the Angels…or perhaps the Jays? Discuss…