In recent months, we've heard some talks of a potential contract extension for Adrian Beltre that would run him through the end of his career. Jon Daniels has gone on record to say that the organization wants to get an extension hammered out and to see Beltre finish his career in a Texas uniform.
It's interesting, really, that around this time a year ago, there was a lot of talk that Beltre could end up being a significant trade piece if (when, if you listened to the sky-is-falling pundits) the Rangers ended up struggling in 2015.
Alas, no trade of Beltre ever materialized -- and thank God for that.
Yesterday on Twitter, Jon Heyman mentioned that Beltre is seeking a 3-year extension and is looking to receive no less than the $19 million per year that Pablo Sandoval is receiving in Boston at a significantly lesser level of production.
The thought of a player seeking any sort of contract through his age-40 season at such a premium has been universally laughed at since the Angels handed Albert Pujols a deal that will pay him $30 million in his age-41 season. So, we're not quite in Pujols territory yet with this one, but according to Heyman, both the Rangers and Beltre aren't quite on the same page just yet.
Beltre, of course, is a Scott Boras client. Boras is well-known for getting his clients the most money. When Beltre signed his 6-year, $96 million contract, there was no shortage of critics ready to proclaim that Boras had once again bamboozled a team into parting with too much money.
Now, of course, we have the benefit of hindsight. We know that in actuality, Beltre outperformed the contract so well that the Rangers were more than willing to pick up the 6th-year club option for 2016 that will pay him $18 million.
Even during a down year in 2015 in which a thumb injury hampered his offensive skills, Beltre was able to put up a WAR of 5.8, according to Baseball-Reference. The cost per win on a $/WAR scale is generally assumed to be about $6.5 million, give or take a little. So suffice to say, even in his age-36 season, Adrian Beltre was a good value for Texas.
However, past production isn't necessarily the best method for handing out contract extensions. Chances are, down the stretch of his career, Adrian Beltre is going to need more and more time at DH instead of at 3B. Those stretches in which he doesn't play on artificial turf are going to bleed over into other parts of the season as well. And truth be told, a significant portion of Beltre's value is wrapped up in his defense.
Furthermore, the organization has seemingly indicated that it feels that Joey Gallo belongs at 3B. There's no way that Gallo isn't somehow getting reps by 2017, and at the same time, it doesn't make sense to carry two 3B on the 25-man roster when neither player plays any other position and Prince Fielder is already the team's DH.
At that point, you're talking about possibly seeing Prince Fielder on the move in the next year or so -- and if we're being honest, that scenario wouldn't surprise me terribly. It would free up the DH slot to allow Beltre to get off of his legs some while also freeing up some at-bats for younger -- and very promising -- players.
If you're Jon Daniels and the Texas front office, you've basically got to decide: Is Adrian Beltre going to be valuable enough offensively over the next four seasons to be a 3-3.5 WAR player per season with increasingly limited innings at 3B?
If not, then are you willing to pay a premium to "make up" for years in which Beltre provided excess value, which is then what you would essentially be doing?
There's no easy answer here. I count myself among those that would love nothing more than to see Adrian Beltre retire as a Texas Ranger and go into the Hall of Fame wearing a Texas hat.
Something that would surprise me terribly is if the Rangers don't end up getting an extension hammered out with Adrian Beltre. Maybe it isn't the 3-year deal at $19 million per season he's currently asking for, but anything in the range of $15-17 million per year would seem to fit just about right.
After all, Beltre finds himself in elite company. The only players in baseball history with a higher WAR between their ages 34-36 seasons? Babe Ruth, Barry Bonds, Willie Mays, Honus Wagner, Tris Speaker, Roberto Clemente, Hank Aaron, Nap Lajoie, Ty Cobb, and Chipper Jones. That's pretty elite company, and something tells me that Texas wants to be on the right side of history if (when?) Adrian Beltre has a spectacular ending to his already Hall of Fame career.