January 04, 2011
As is being reported by our own Jeff Passan and Tim Brown, the power-hitting third baseman is "closing in on" a six-year deal with the Texas Rangers that will approach the neighborhood of $100 million. (MLB.com is reporting $96 million with the sixth year being voidable by the club if a certain number of plate appearances are not reached.)
All I can say is good for Beltre.
Don't get me wrong: I can see the benefits of adding Beltre to the infield of the defending AL champions. He's coming off a monster year with the Boston Red Sox, upgrades the team's defense at the hot corner and should feel at home in the cozy confines of Rangers Ballpark. If the Rangers were looking to add an impact player in an effort to build and encourage their fanbase in the wake of last year's great run — not to mention keep him away from the division rival Los Angeles Angels — then they got their man.
At the same time, there are a lot of reasons to be skeptical about the Rangers' return to opening their wallets wide for a big-time free agent. For the past few years, they've been hamstrung by Tom Hicks' financial problems and the result was Daniels building a streamlined contender heavy on young prospects (Andrus, Feliz), free-agent bargains (Guerrero, Lewis), affordable pitching (Wilson, Hunter) and smart trades (Hamilton, Lee).
But now that they're under new ownership and coming off a successful season, they're going to forget the handcuffing days of A-Rod and Chan Ho Park(notes) and immediately drive an armored truck at top speed toward the nearest free agent? Toward a guy who will be 32 years old on opening day and had his two best seasons in contract years? When the move will make Michael Young(notes) either a $16 million DH or a sunk cost taking up a roster spot on some other team? When they could exhibit some patience and save the cash to make a run at a much younger Prince Fielder(notes) next offseason?
Well, that's just a wee bit nerve-racking and deserving of some skepticism.
Again, the Beltre deal could pay immediate dividends and maybe it won't affect the Rangers' ability to build and/or maintain the good pitching staff that was key to getting them over the hump of their previously World Series-free existence. Maybe the rest of their affordable roster gives them the option to take a risk on an expensive player like Beltre.
At the same time, I reserve the right to remain cautious about a team that used creativity and flexibility to get to this position in the first place.