Say No To Beltre
Once again the Adrian Beltre trade rumors are generating some buzz amongst the media and fans either in the coffee shops, radio airwaves, or national TV broadcast. It was mentioned during the national Fox Sports 1 broadcast on Tuesday evening that Beltre would be a very attractive piece for any team in the playoff hunt. There’s nothing inaccurate about that statement because every lineup in baseball would value adding a veteran bat like Beltre. Norm Hitzges opined on his Tuesday radio program the same thing and mentioned that by trading Beltre, it would return a nice haul of top tier prospects. That may be true and could really help this organizat in restocking their minor league system that has taken a hit the last few years of contending and adding key pieces via trades. If the Rangers were in a situation where they wanted to blow this roster up and start over, it would make a lot of sense to trade Beltre. I wrote something here a few weeks ago about why that mentality doesn’t make sense for this franchise and could take years to recover from and get back to their winning ways. There are three main reasons why trading Adrian Beltre doesn’t make sense and they are:
In 2015 the starting third baseman will undoubtedly be Adrian Beltre if he is on this roster. If the Rangers decide to stay in house to fill the void created if they trade Beltre, the options are thin. It could be logical, I suppose, to start Profar at third with Andrus and Odor starting in the middle, but Profar would be playing out of position and that may not be ideal for a young prospect trying to find his way in a big league clubhouse. Despite Profar starting ten games at third last season, it’s not an ideal situation for this team in 2015. There is a kid you may have heard about in Frisco named Joey Gallo. Apparently, he is capable of hitting baseballs at great distances, but most experts and scouts agree that 2016 needs to be when Gallo makes his debut as an everyday player at the big league level. Rushing Gallo as the everyday third baseman in 2015 may be something the front office feels comfortable doing, but from all indications they will take a slower approach in handling their top prospect. A few names on the free agency list for next year that could possibly be a viable option are Pablo Sandoval, Casey McGehee, and Chase Headley among others. These wouldn’t be terrible ideas (well, maybe they would) if you could get cheap one-year deals on McGehee or Headley so money could be allocated elsewhere. The real problems that are created with going with this option will be discussed in our next point. Signing Pablo Sandoval will not happen because he will want more than a one-year deal at the age of 28 and anything more than a one-year deal on any of the possible free agents makes no sense because it blocks Gallo in 2016. The bottom line is the options for the Texas Rangers defensively at third base are slim in 2015 without Adrian Beltre. Anything other than Beltre is a giant step back for this franchise from a defensive perspective.
2. Who drives in runs for the 2015 Rangers?
He leads the regulars in homeruns, runs, average, on base percentage, and slugging percentage. Most offensive categories this year have Beltre’s name at the top of the leader board and the deeper you dig in the stats, the more you realize how valuable he really is to this team. His WAR, according to Fan graphs, is at 3.1 and is more than double the next most valuable player (Martin at 1. 5). Obviously, in 2015 the Rangers will hopefully have a healthy Prince Fielder who is more than capable of carrying the load offensively. Baseball Reference ranks the active leaders in offensive win percentage, which means what the teams winning percentage would be with 9 players in the lineup like that particular player. Prince Fielder is ranked 7th on their list with a winning percentage of .693 and Choo falls in at 21st with a .656 winning percentage. Say what you will about the value of these types of statistics, and I understand those concerns, but the bottom line is that Fielder and Choo do have the ability to perform effectively offensively. Without Beltre, it puts a tremendous amount of pressure on Fielder and Choo to carry this team next season and based on what we have seen from Choo and what we saw from Fielder prior to the injury, suggests that they could be facing regression in the face. By keeping Beltre, and assuming all three are healthy, it provides a potent lineup that gives the Rangers a chance to contend in 2015. By keeping Beltre it also provides stability in the lineup, keeps the power potential, and allows the front office to spend their resources focusing solely on improving the pitching staff.
3. How does Jon Daniels sell trading Beltre to an already volatile fan base?
Last season it was the Jon Daniels versus Nolan Ryan debates that carried us fans into the off-season. This season has seen the fan base debate injury curses, bad contracts, trading Elvis, and JD ruining this franchise’s pennant-chasing run and that he needs to be fired. The one constant through all of the hot sports opinions’ has been Adrian Beltre. Through this summer of adversity, the fans have come together to realize (if they hadn’t already done so) how good Beltre really is and it appears have learned to appreciate his greatness. I can’t see anything good happening from a PR perspective if they traded him. An organization does not need to, nor should they operate out of fear of making the fans angry. The exception though in this situation is that the fan base was turned upside down this season. We did not expect to be the worst team in baseball and this off-season was about building a roster to keep the Rangers’ in the World Series conversation. A rebuild or admitting to further years of bad baseball is not something this town is ready for…just yet.
The point I did not elaborate on, but could be one of the most important is the fact that Beltre would not return the haul of prospects it would take to risk going through the three things I have mentioned. An 35 year old veteran who will make 18 million next season is not the type of player that will make most general managers unload top prospects within their farm systems. There is no doubt that Beltre would bring back something of value, but is it worth the risk of struggling in 2015? Hopefully as the rest of this trading deadline and the month of August plays out, we will continue to see Adrian Beltre in a Rangers uniform in 2015 and beyond.