The Texas Rangers uninspiring 35-42 start may see the team dealing pieces away at the trade deadline instead of stocking up for their annual playoff run, with star 3B Adrian Beltre at the forefront of trade rumours. Adrian Beltre, now 35, has put up elite statistics since arriving in Texas in 2011, but a changing of the guard may soon be underway in Arlington. Evan Grant of Dallas News reported earlier this week that Texas Rangers GM Jon Daniels will be testing the market to gauge interest in some of the teams “core-type” players, Adrian Beltre included.
The Toronto Blue Jays appear to be an early candidate to add yet another Dominican power-hitter to their roster. Adrian Beltre seems to be aging gracefully in Texas, as his past three seasons with the Rangers have all produced a minimum of 30HR, 92RBI, and a .296BA.
The only statistic that Adrian Beltre has shown decline in is Slugging Percentage, which one might expect from the 35 year old. Perhaps the Rogers Centre would re-awaken this number, but even at their current levels, Adrian Beltre’s production would be a formidable addition to any lineup. A battery of Cabrera, Bautista, Encarnacion, Beltre, and Lind through the heart of the Blue Jays order would surely be one of the most feared in all of baseball.
Putting offensive output on the back burner for a moment, the Blue Jays also appear to be a sensible option for Beltre due to the stability that he can provide defensively. A player who struggled at 3B earlier in his career, Beltre has since developed into a top-5 defensive third baseman in baseball. Adrian Beltre has collected Gold Gloves in 2007, 2008, 2011, and 2012. If the Blue Jays were to acquire Beltre, he would join the defensively talented infield of Jose Reyes, Brett Lawrie, and Edwin Encarnacion. Reading that sentence would make Mark Beuhrle smile.
The Texas Rangers have shown in the past, with their trade of Mark Teixeira, that they are not afraid to deal core players who are still producing at high levels. In that trade, the Rangers received Matt Harrison, Elvis Andrus, and Neftali Feliz, all of whom played pivotal roles in the Rangers Championship seasons. Adrian Beltre, of course, will require a significantly smaller package, but this will not stop the Texas Rangers from seeking a piece of their future core for a piece of their past.
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With top prospect Joey Gallo climbing quickly through the Texas Rangers farm system, the Rangers may already possess an in-house replacement for Adrian Beltre over the next season. Beltre’s contract, at his age, may be one of the most important factors in Jon Daniels’ decision this July.
Adrian Beltre is due $18M in 2015 (Age 36), and $16M in 2016 (Age 37) pending a vesting option in his contract. The 2016 option is voided if Adrian Beltre fails to record 1200 Plate Appearances combined in 2014-15, -OR- if Beltre fails to reach 600 Plate Appearances in 2016 individually. This is a valuable contract clause in place to protect the Texas Rangers from paying an injured Adrian Beltre late in his career. Adrian Beltre has exceed this 600AB plateau in 11 of his 15 full Major League seasons (excluding current season and shortened 1998 debut season). It should be noted that this is a contract under which Adrian Beltre could conceivably approach the 3,000 hit milestone.
This money can make sense for the Blue Jays (and hopefully, for Rogers), but it must be a point of hesitation for Alex Anthopolous and his staff. Playing half of his games on the turf in Toronto may bring about problems for Adrian Beltre, but the Blue Jays would prefer to have him in the field as much as possible instead of being used as a DH.
The asking price on Adrian Beltre may be beneficial to the Blue Jays, as they possess at least some level of strength at the Texas Rangers’ positions of need. I struggle to see a situation in which a trade for Adrian Beltre would not include Blue Jays catching prospect A.J. Jimenez, who finally appears to be playing near full health. With the Blue Jays recent addition of 1st Round C Max Pentecost, they should be more comfortable dealing the man who they have long considered their top catching prospect. Keep in mind, the Texas Rangers willingly gave J.P. Arencibia money to play baseball for them this past off-season, so they will certainly be seeking help behind the dish.
As part of a package with A.J. Jimenez, the Blue Jays may be able to tempt Adrian Beltre away with a second-level pitching prospect and a high-ceiling, “lottery” type player from deeper in their system. Some arms that come to mind would be Sean Nolin, Deck McGuire, Alberto Tirado, or Jairo Labourt.
I think that the package required for Adrian Beltre (which I predict to be in at least the same neighbourhood as outlined above) would be a worthwhile move for the Toronto Blue Jays. Again, Anthopolous may choose to put the Blue Jays assets towards pitching at the deadline, but a move for Adrian Beltre would bring noticeable changes to the team on both sides of the ball. A very good offence would become elite, and eliminate one of it’s “easy out” holes, while John Gibbons would be able to field a regular infield without as much need of platooning players.
The Blue Jays are in a strange, magical place right now: contention. Adrian Beltre has called that place “home” for several years, and his addition could help propel the Toronto Blue Jays into a pennant run, words that our younger fans may need to Google.