About a month ago, I endorsed the Rangers re-signing Adrian Beltre to a contract exceeding his expected value over the next three years. Since writing about this team for various sites over the last 5 years, it represents the only time I can remember supporting what I know in my head to be a bad business move.
But it’s complicated, as Evan Grant writes. According to his recent article:
Beltre, who can become a free agent at the end of the season, acknowledged Thursday he is still waiting for a contract proposal from the Rangers. He said the same last week on the eve of the season, then added he didn’t intend to negotiate during the season. But, he said, he’d consider a firm proposal that he could either accept or reject.
For all we know the Rangers and Adrian Beltre could agree to an extension any time, but it’s telling that the organization has yet to make a formal offer. Or at least that Adrian would publically admit to no formal offer.
There are enough recent examples of players signing extensions with Texas during the regular season, so it wouldn’t be unprecedented. At the beginning of 2013 Elvis Andrus signed his famous 8-year, $120 million extension, though to be fair he wouldn’t have been a free agent until 2015. A year earlier, the Rangers inked Ian Kinsler to a 5-year extension on April 10th, the same season they feigned interest in re-signing Josh Hamilton.
And that’s what the Adrian Beltre contract saga feels more like. From a media perspective it seems like the Rangers are saying the right things, that there’s mutual interest in bringing Beltre back and all that happy stuff.
Yet, the longer this goes, the less likely it is that the two sides can come to an agreement. At this moment, I would have to say it’s more likely than not Adrian is in a different uniform next season.
That isn’t a flip-flop on how I feel about the situation, but I can’t deny it makes a ton of sense for the Rangers to let him walk.
As is, the club opened the season with a $159 million payroll — largest in franchise history by nearly $20 million — and that’s with the Angels picking up $26 million on Josh Hamilton’s deal, and Detroit kicking in $6 million for Prince Fielder. The Rangers already have an insane amount of money committed to players on the wrong side of 30 — including Fielder, Shin-Soo Choo and Cole Hamels — and still owe about $100 million to Elvis.
In the same vein, there’s a more pressing extension to be considered with Rougned Odor, who unlike Beltre is only getting better and thus more expensive. And that’s without taking into account that Yu Darvish — who will likely command $200 million or more — is due to be a free agent after next year.
So none of this seems to bode well in procuring Adrian for two or three more seasons.
If Joey Gallo or Jurickson Profar weren’t at Triple-A knocking on the door of a big league lineup, this decision would be more elementary. But they are both so young, and so cheap, that even if their production at 3rd base is only half that of Beltre in 2017, it would still be a net positive for the club financially.
Over the last few years the Rangers have absorbed a significant amount of payroll by adding prime/post-prime veterans, and, un-ironically, that appears to be their great undoing in trying to re-sign Adrian Beltre — who fits neatly into the same category. For years Texas has promised to continue adding payroll, but by next year they’ll be at the point where they need guys like Gallo and Profar on the major league roster, to help offset the payments due to Fielder and Choo.
I don’t doubt that Adrian will get paid $20 million to play baseball in 2017. I’m just beginning to think that team isn’t going to be the Rangers.