Future Hall of Famer Beltre should remain with Rangers
Third baseman Adrian Beltre has spent nearly a third of his 18-year big-league career with the Texas Rangers. He will be eligible for free agency next fall, but he would like to finish his career with the team he has had his best years with.
The aging Beltre will be 37 this season, and while that may seem old for a contract extension, he’d like to remain with the team he’s called home for the last five years, saying recently, “If they want me, I guess I will probably be here.” President of baseball operations and general manager Jon Daniels has said on the record that the sentiment is mutual on the Rangers’ end.
As an added plus, the fans also embrace Beltre. The Ranger’s recently announced a special bobblehead day in Beltre’s honor this season according to beat writer Adrian Garro of Fox Sports. The bobblehead has a removable helmet so that the fans can pat his head whenever they like. It’s well known that Beltre has an issue with people touching his head. It’s something that has entertained the fans, his teammates and even players from other clubs for decades. The Rangers decision to make this special bobblehead shows how big of a feature player he has been with them for them in the past five seasons.
The Rangers usually don’t talk contract extensions until spring training, but they should be already in serious talks with the future Hall of Famer. Beltre’s agent is the infamous Scott Boras. He’s been working tirelessly for his free agent clients over the offseason but hasn’t quite gotten to working out an extension for Beltre which, for the benefit of both parties, should be completed prior to Beltre reporting to training camp on February 24.
Beltre should want his extension finalized by spring training and if the team is serious they will oblige. Keeping Beltre focused on playing the game to the best of his ability, which is quite superior than the majority of third baseman, should be the team’s priority.
Any and all distractions could be avoided. Talk of money, extensions and free agency, during spring training or during the season, can cause players to lose their focus what’s most important and that’s playing good baseball.
The Rangers know they have young Joey Gallo ready and willing to take over at the hot corner, once Beltre has decided to call it a career. Yet, Gallo is MLB ready now. While they want to keep Beltre, the Rangers do not want to block Gallo, who could be an offensive force for the team, on his path to the big leagues.
Gallo has played in the outfield during his career so that is an option, as is having the two players each take some time at the designated hitter position. That might actually be even better for Beltre. Even though his ability to play third base has not weakened, a little rest here and there will not hurt him. With a little creativity the Rangers can keep Gallo out of the minors and on the big league club, while still holding onto Beltre.
Beltre has spent his best seasons with the Rangers, while also having found success while playing for the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Seattle Mariners and the Boston Red Sox. He has great prior credentials, having lead the National League in home runs in 2004 (48) while with the Dodgers. He was voted the runner-up to NL MVP, Barry Bonds formerly of the San Francisco Giants, that same season. He took home two Gold Glove Awards as a member of the Mariners and won his second Silver Slugger Award along with his first All-Star appearance in his lone year with the Boston Red Sox in 2010.
Since joining the Rangers in 2011, Beltre has made three of his four All-Star appearances, finished in the top ten in the MVP voting three times, won two of his four Silver Slugger Awards and two of his four Gold Gloves. He also led the American League in hits with 199 in 2013.
In 2015, the then 36-year-old Beltre hit .287 with 18 home runs and 87 RBI, despite playing the majority of the season, from June 2 on, with a torn ligament in his thumb. Beltre has been so good that he is a virtual lock for the National Baseball Hall of Fame after he retires.
He was a huge part in the club’s turnaround from being at the bottom of the AL West in 2014 and them winning the division in 2015. Even injured, Beltre is an asset to the Rangers, one they need to lock down soon before he gets too distracted of waiting for extension talks to begin or begins thinking too much about the possibility of the free agent market.