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Monday, May 21, 2018

Adrian Beltre Talking with Texas Rangers, Remains Risky Signing

The Rangers and free agent Adrian Beltre are reportedly close to finalizing a deal to bring the All-Star third baseman to Texas. The deal is said to be worth between $90 and $96 million over six years.

Adrian Beltre first broke into the league with the Dodgers as a teenager. He developed into one of the best young players in the game and peaked in 2004 when he hit .334 with 48 home runs, 32 doubles, and 121 RBIs. It just so happened that that was the final year of his contract with the Dodgers, and he used the monster year to cash in as a free agent.

Beltre headed to the Pacific Northwest to join the Mariners on a five-year $64 million deal. He dropped off in most offensive categories averaging 21 home runs, 34 doubles 79 RBI, and a .261 average with Seattle. The numbers were not bad, but not worth the kind of money he was given. However, you can’t knock his defense — Beltre was in the discussion for the Gold Glove every year and won it in 2007 and 2008.

It came as no surprise that Adrian did not have many suitors looking to give him a long-term deal following his tenure with the Mariners. He wound up settling for a one-year deal with the Red Sox hoping to boost his stock. The small confines of Fenway Park and the Green Monster treated Beltre well; he wound up hitting .321 with 28 home runs, 32 doubles, and 102 RBIs, rebuilding his free agent value.

Beltre had a great season for Boston last year, but I really question the Rangers giving him so much money over such a long period. The guy is 31 years old and has a history of underperforming after signing a big money deal. In the Mariners’ clubhouse he was known to be lazy and on several occasions came into spring training overweight. With such a young core in Texas, I’d be a little concerned that his habits might rub off negatively on the other players. And how long can we really expect him to remain a gold glove caliber third baseman? How many times have we seen guys loose a little range as they get into their mid 30s?

If the Rangers complete the signing, their lineup would become pretty mean next year: Elvis Andrus, Michael Young, Josh Hamilton, Beltre, Nelson Cruz, Ian Kinsler, Vladimir Guerrero (if he re-signs), and Julio Borbon. We’ll have to see if Beltre is capable of duplicating his success or if his poor habits will resurface. I know for one, I wont be stretching to draft Beltre come fantasy time.

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