Behind the Insider pay wall on ESPN.com, Keith Law writes that the Rangers -- with all of their injury misfortunes -- should strongly consider trading Adrian Beltre and "retool" for 2015. Normally I don't put very much stock in Blow It All Up articles during the middle of May, but Law is one of the most respected voices in the industry, so it would be irresponsible to treat his perspective like we would, um, I don't know, Jon Paul Morosi's for instance.
Law gives an interesting view of how the Rangers look now, and how they will look in the future, but I thought this was the most illuminating part of the story:
"Beltre's eventual replacement in Arlington, Joey Gallo, is hitting .340/.461/.787 in high Class A at age 20, despite playing in a strong pitchers' park in Myrtle Beach. Trading Beltre now, with a year-plus and a 2016 option left, would get the Rangers more of a return than trading him in mid-2015, and could help them fill some needs while they wait for some young contributors for 2016 and beyond to develop [...]."
Since Adrian Beltre came to Texas in 2011, he's been one of the best corner infielders in baseball, generating +13.3 WAR according to FanGraphs. He's produced as the organization's most consistent offensive threat, is one of the best defenders at his position in the game, and by all accounts is the leader of the clubhouse (for whatever that's worth). There's a better than decent chance Beltre goes to the Hall of Fame after his career is over. So, the thought of him not being in a Rangers' uniform -- especially as early as some point in 2014 -- is almost inconceivable. Adrian has been everything the franchise envisioned him to be, and then some.
But Keith Law is right: The Rangers are going nowhere, fast, and the longer they hold onto Beltre the less valuable he is to them. If Texas was going to be competitive in 2014 then, sure, you want Adrian's bat in the middle of the order everyday, and you would expect him to consistently perform like one of the two or three-best hitters in the lineup. But, what if the club isn't going to the postseason? Of what value is he then?
Adrian Beltre is in his age-35 season, and is owed $18 million in 2015 plus a $16 million vesting option in 2016. If the Rangers were to unload him now (or in July) -- along with the $20 million or so they'll be receiving in insurance for Prince Fielder and Matt Harrison's injuries -- they'd have a nest-egg to be able to afford just about any impact talent they want. Maybe that's Max Scherzer as a free agent after the year, or maybe it's some blockbuster trade no one knows about that will happen overnight. It's not going to be of much help in 2014, but, conflated with the television money that starts pumping in next year, this is still going to be one of the most powerful organizations in MLB.
No doubt, it stings to be out of the race this soon. It hurts to think about players like Adrian Beltre, who many of us seem to have an irrational amount of love for, turning into a chip for the franchise to cash-in on. But, this is baseball business; sometimes circumstances force front offices to make decisions they didn't plan to.
The Rangers headed into Opening Day on the mend, and, unfortunately for them and all of us, we're not yet two months removed from that day and nearly all hope is lost. The club is broken beyond repair.
Luckily, this is an extremely well-run ball club, by a front office who's not likely to succumb to knee-jerk reactions. They aren't going to trade guys just to trade them. But whether it's Beltre, or Alex Rios, or Joakim Soria, or Neal Cotts: The phone lines are open, boys.