Adrian Beltre: Destinations That Make Sense
Adrian Beltre picked a good time to become a free agent and a good year to produce like an elite offensive force. Of course we've seen this before. Teams should be scared to offer Beltre anything close to the deals given to elite hitters so far this offseason. Beltre has not been especially consistent over his career, though he does play exceptional defense and can be counted on for 25 home runs of so wherever he plays.
Most teams appear to be set at third base or can expect the continued development of a younger player to fill the role. Of the few teams that make sense for Beltre, several of them seem unlikely because of financial issues, the type of home ballpark, or just because he doesn't seem to fit in with the type of team they are. Nevertheless here are six interesting destinations for Beltre and one that seems especially likely and necessary.
But he’s better than Jose Lopez. And if he were looking for a reasonably priced one-year deal, I'd be calling if I were in charge.
The Marlins might be the team on this list that improves the most with Adrian Beltre. Without him they look like an 83-85 win bunch assuming a couple of bounce-back years and continued improvements by their young stars in waiting.
Wes Helms tops their depth chart at third base and he’s a career backup player coming off a .220 season. Helms does not hit for power and isn’t great in the field. Emilio Bonifacio shouldn’t play every day.
The hitch in this plan is that Beltre will want more than the 2 years Florida should sign him for. Scott Cousins will be able to take over center field soon and Chris Coghlan can plan third base, so the Marlins have no reason to sign Beltre long term. He would make them better in 2011 and 2012 though.
The Indians have been sitting on their laurels this offseason and I wonder if Beltre is a guy they should be considering. Their current options at third base are horrible. Jayson Nix has 20 home run power but can’t seem to get on base. Luis Valbuena should be a backup and Andy Marte doesn’t do anything especially well.
This team will struggle at third base without Beltre but I would be somewhat surprised to see them sign him. It’s a match that does make some sense. Beltre would provide some protection for the better hitters in the lineup. He would also give them a potentially productive righty bat on a team whose top three hitters are lefties. He wont single-handedly gain them 20 wins in the standings, but would help.
Sounds kind of like a match made in hell. McAfee Colliseum is a massive ballpark and not surprisingly Oakland is a team with lackluster power. They cannot blame that entirely on their home stadium though.
Adrian Beltre was still productive in Seattle's huge Safeco Field most of the time. He can still hit 25 home runs in a pitcher’s park.
He probably wont find a park as well suited to his talents as Fenway and so we can expect quite a decline in batting average and RBI and perhaps a slight decline in the home runs as well. When he isn’t hitting for average, Beltre is a below-average OBP guy. He would still be better than Kevin Kouzmanoff but I’m having trouble imagining Oakland paying Beltre’s high asking price as long as Billy Beane is in charge.
Adrian Beltre at his best does not make the Athletics better than the Rangers. Nor would they really be able to compete with New York, Tampa, or and of the better AL Central teams for the wild card.
Los Angeles Angels
The Angels seriously needed to add some offensive firepower this offseason and they missed out on the two premier free agent bats. Adrian Beltre really is a must-sign for these guys and he will almost certainly sign for more money and more years than he’s worth. I think the Angels are going to go all in on Beltre and wind up signing him for four years and something like 50 million dollars.
At the top of the Angels’ depth chart and third base is Maicer Izturis, an average contact hitter with no power. He has hit 27 home runs in his career which has spanned over 1800 at bats. Alberto Callaspo may be a better option but he still isn’t an impact bat, despite a couple seasons of hitting .300. Then there’s Brandon Wood who seems to be an exceptional AAA player. He does nothing well at the major league level and may spend some time as a backup this year, if he’s lucky.
Erick Aybar and Howie Kendrick give the Angels a middle infield combination that hits for average but doesn’t take walks. If the average fails them in 2011 or if they experience prolonged slumps, the team will be hit relatively hard, lacking production from at least two infield spots.
Adrian Beltre would be another offensive force for the team, but he wouldn’t be a saving grace. Kendry Morales is the team’s lone offensive stud. Torii Hunter has learned to take a walk and a declining Bobby Abreu is still a productive player, but this team can’t get by on productive players alone. Neither of those two guys can carry a team. With the holes they have in their lineup, they need some additional firepower. Beltre would really be more of what they already have but that’s better than nothing. He would give them three 90 RBI guys in the middle of their order surrounding Morales.
Beltre would be a fantastic defensive upgrade and an additional 15 home runs and 40 RBI to what they already have. He won't approach his numbers from 2010 except maybe in the HR department and he wont justify a five-year deal but he’ll help the Angels to remain competitive if not an especially fearsome team.