Sunday, January 2, 2011

Adrian Beltre signs with Texas, Again?

Today there have been some rather volatile Adrian Beltre to Texas rumors: claims that he has signed, denials, skewering of sources, skewering of terms (6/95). MLBTR has another note up just now in which Enrique Rojas is claiming the talks are legit, and it appears to be a 5yr deal with an option yr.

There is no question about the lovely D that Beltre would bring to 3b, making for an absolutely terrific defensive infield. Some people seem to question his bat (10 and 7 WAR during his contract year, with a steep decline in the subsequent year) a risk that is even more pronounced over a longer deal, though not as much for the first 3 years. The biggest risk is his age, as a five year deal will cover his age 32-36 seasons, age 37 if the option vests. It seems highly problematic to predict what kind of inevitable decline he will have over the last 2 years of the deal. However, given that there really are no more superstar free agents available, and that TX only has a 2-3 yr window to compete for a ring with the current roster, it is probably a risk worth taking. If Beltre is a 1.5 WAR player in his 4th and/or 5th years, his contract won't be as onerous as it could be given that Young will come off the books in those years.

If TX can nab him for the deal that the Angels were reportedly thinking on - 5/70- while tacking on a hard to reach 6th year option, or one with, say, a higher buyout (5m?), then it seems like a reasonable deal. The only caveat will be that the deal might not look so good over the last 2 years (with the hope that the option has a buyout - this seems to be a must to make the deal a good one on the back end). The value of that deal would have to be about 15 WAR over 5years(at 5/70+5m).

The deal would have a number of other important benefits. It would allow you to upgrade 1b by moving Young over or trading him for a starting pitcher (while eating some cash). It would allow you to trade Moreland if you wanted to, or platoon him at DH, and protects you from the risk of having to open the season with him as a FT player to open the season. It gives the lineup another big bat, which is really important given the frequent absence of players due injury (Hambone, Cruz, Kinsler). It would also allow you to stick with a weaker bat in the lineup for the whole season like Borbon, who nevertheless, offers plus defense while keeping Hambone _OUT_ of center field. As for the DH, the extra bat allows you to more effectively rotate players through that spot to help reduce the injury risks for everyone, but particularly the aforementioned three, and you can sign someone like Thome for cheap who is likely to be very productive from one side for at least one more year.

Anyways, if Beltre signs, you could see a number of other moves quickly fall into place. The risk of signing an old player to a deal like this would be mitigated if it allowed TX to improve in so many other areas. As long as those other moves are actualized, it would be a great sign, and give TX the chance to contend for the next 2-3 years at least.

UPDATE: There are some people speculating that Michael Young would be moved to a spot that does not exist - super utility player. This has got to be one of the dumbest things that I have heard during the off season and points to the depth to which some people's disdain for him will go. He will start at 1b or be traded. That speculation - that Young would play all the infield positions some OF and DH - is just stupid and hopefully dies a quick death. Young is valuable as a 2.5-3.5 WAR player with his bat alone not to mention that he could also contribute on the defensive side at 1b unlike at 3b. So, yeah, Ridiculous.


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