In the past month or so, we've talked several times here about Adrian Beltre and his desired contract extension. As a refresher, he is reportedly seeking a 3-year extension in the neighborhood of $20 million per season to take him through the end of his career.
On the surface, it's easy to say that we all want to see Adrian retire in a Texas uniform. Below the surface, there are still some of us wanting to see the extension happen; to just pay the man. Others, however, aren't so sure. And that's fine. Whatever your opinion, it's hopefully easy to appreciate Adrian Beltre's past contributions to the organization and the prospect of at least a strong 2016 season from him.
On Friday, Beltre told Gerry Fraley of The Dallas Morning News that once the season starts, he'd prefer to table any contract talks in order to prevent them from becoming a distraction. And for some reason, the whole scenario is at the front of my mind, and making me uneasy. As I see it, there's not a whole lot of potential for anything good to come from waiting to get this thing done, if Texas does indeed want to get it done.
Follow along with me for a few moments. In one scenario, let us assume that Adrian Beltre is healthy and productive in 2016. Given the thumb injury that nagged at him last season, that's not really too far of a stretch to make. Beltre goes out, has a fantastic year, but no contract is done. Suddenly, one of the game's most productive players at his position is a free agent. If you think that doesn't turn into a bidding war, then you're certainly more clairvoyant than myself.
A second scenario: Age finally catches up to Adrian this season. Maybe he's still productive, but not like he has been for his entire Texas tenure. Or maybe some other physical ailment limits his playing time. For his part, Beltre likely enters the offseason thinking he can rebound. Every good player believes that of themselves; you don't get to the highest professional level of the sport without that core belief in yourself. Texas, for their part, would be rightly hesitant to sign an aging player who showed signs of slowing down to any kind of significant contract.
In either scenario, this thing potentially turns into a situation in which the Texas front office is the last one standing waiting for a prom date. And fans, being the experts at revisionists history as they are wont to be, would certainly hate it.
Granted, fans don't run the organization, and at the end of the day, winning cures all. Even still, I can't shake the feeling that if this thing turns into Adrian Beltre being a free agent at season's end, he's not coming back to Texas. And that's regardless of what type of season he might have.
Right now, Texas effectively has an exclusive negotiating period with their future Hall of Fame third baseman. While Jon Daniels says that exceptions can be made for in-season contract talks, this may perhaps be an instance where an exception needs to be made. Call it the fan in me, call it whatever you want. I'd like to see Adrian Beltre finish his career in Texas, and something is telling me that if he doesn't have a new deal before Monday's opener, he may end up retiring somewhere else.