Sunday, January 2, 2011

Beltre Close to Signing with Rangers

While most people expected third baseman Adrian Beltre to sign with the Angels, he is apparently close to a deal with the Texas Rangers, according to MLB Trade Rumors and Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes.  As late as about three o'clock this afternoon there was no deal in place between Beltre and the Rangers.  According to Rojas' sources, the deal will be a five-year deal with an option for 2016.

Beltre's great 2010 season helped him gain bargaining power in order to negotiate a five-year deal.  For the Red Sox last season, Beltre hit .321 with 28 home runs, 102 RBI and a league leading 49 doubles.  He was helped by playing 81 games in Fenway Park, where the Green Monster played to Beltre's strengths.  In 219 career at-bats at Rangers Ballpark, Beltre has a .306 average, 9 home runs and 34 RBI.  Those are good numbers and Rangers Ballpark is a notorious hitter's park, but I still don't think that Beltre's production will be as good as it was with Boston in 2010.  Over his 12 full seasons in the majors, Beltre has a .277 batting average and has averaged 23 home runs and 82 RBI.  Good numbers, but not as good as this past season's.  Don't expect to see 2010-esque numbers over the five years of his new contract.

The main question the Rangers will now have to answer is how they will fit Beltre into their lineup.  They already have Michael Young at third, Elvis Andrus at shortstop, and Ian Kinsler at second.  During the Winter Meetings, the Rangers discussed trading Young and that is still possibility.  Seeing as the Rangers have not resigned Vladimir Guerrero, Young could also be moved to the role of DH and Beltre would play third.  Young wouldn't be considered a prototypical DH, but has hit a combined 43 home runs with a .301 batting average over the last two seasons.  I expect the Rangers to utilize that option.  Young can still hit and has been a Ranger for his entire career.  With Beltre, Young, Andrus, Kinsler, Josh Hamilton, and Nelson Cruz, the Rangers may have a more formidable lineup than they did last season when they reached the World Series.

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