Last week, I wrote that if the Angels don’t get Adrian Beltre, they are pretty much screwed as they have precious few options available to them when it comes to surefire ways of beefing up their anemic offense. That assertion still rings true, but guess what? The converse is true as well. As badly as the Angels need Adrian Beltre, he might need them even more so.
Beltre and his superagent/Anti-Christ Scott Boras may have recently spurned the Angels alleged five year, $70 million offer, but that doesn’t mean the negotiations are dead. The Halos claim their offer is final, so the ball is now in Beltre and Boras’ court. But do they really have any other options given the dearth of suitors for Beltre’s services?
Beltre should be down on bended knee begging the Angels to sign him.
Scott Boras almost always gets what he wants and what he wants for Adrian Beltre is a six-year, $90 million contract for the enigmatic third baseman. But it looks like this year we might all get a Christmas miracle of Beltre having to “settle” for a few years and a few million dollars less (poor guy). The key to any negotiation is always leverage and it certainly looks likes the Angels have all of the leverage right now. Boras may want the Angels to up their offer, but they simply have no reason to do so since no other team is in position to step in and prompt the Halos to raise their bid. Don’t believe me? Let’s take a quick tour of the hot corner around the league.
Arizona – No real starter, but no real money either.
Atlanta – Chipper Jones is the de facto starter with Martin Prado as a fallback.
Baltimore – Just traded for Mark Reynolds.
Boston – They like Beltre, but their trade for Adrian Gonzalez moves Kevin Youkilis to third, and he isn’t going to be unseated.
Chicago Cubs – Aramis Ramirez and his bloated contract is still clogging up the hot corner.
Chicago White Sox – Between Dayan Viciedo, Gordan Beckham, Brent Morel, Omar Vizquel and Mark Teahen the Sox may not have quality, but they have enough quantity at third.
Cincinnati – They will be fine rollin’ with Rolen.
Cleveland – I’m pretty sure they’d have to double their payroll to sign Beltre.
Colorado – Ian Stewart and Ty Wigginton are nothing special, but the Rockies have shown no inclination to spend big in free agency.
Detroit – Brandon Inge isn’t going anywhere seeing how the ink on his contract extension isn’t even dry yet.
Florida – The Marlins are sellers right now, not buyers.
Houston – Chris Johnson quietly had a pretty good rookie season, no reason to unseat him.
Kansas City – Wilson Betemit is the current starter (yikes!) but the Royals don’t have that kind of money.
Los Angeles Dodgers – Even if they did want to upgrade over Casey Blake, their money is tied up in the McCourt Divorce Debacle.
Milwaukee – They seem plenty happy with Casey McGehee.
Minnesota – Danny Valencia probably overachieved last season, but the Twins have already maxed out their payroll.
New York Mets – David Wright is pretty much their franchise player, so they won’t be moving him off of third.
New York Yankees – I hear the A-Rod kid might turn out to be an OK player.
Oakland – They already took a run at Beltre, but he shot them down and they have since spent their money elsewhere.
Philadelphia – It might be tempting to upgrade over Placido Polanco, but there is no way the Phightin’s have any money left after their thievery of Cliff Lee.
Pittsburgh – Even if they weren’t the cheapest team in the league, they have uber-prospect Pedro Alvarez manning third base.
San Diego – It makes no sense for them to trade A-Gon because they can’t afford him and then go out and spend on Beltre.
San Francisco – The Giants are fresh off a World Series, so they might have some extra cash in their coffers, but with Pedro Sandoval and Mark DeRosa on the roster, they have options at third and would be wise to spend elsewhere. At best, the Giants are extreme longshots for Beltre.
Seattle – Been there, done that, not going back.
St. Louis – David Freese is very replaceable, but the Cards need to save every penny for Albert Pujols’ contract extension.
Tampa Bay – Evan Longoria. Need I say more?
Texas – This rumor won’t die, so I guess they should be counted as suitors, but if they sign Beltre, they either have to move team leader Michael Young to a new position or to another team altogether. Meanwhile, Texas still hasn’t replaced Cliff Lee in their rotation.
Toronto – They just re-signed Edwin Encarnacion and they aren’t the kind of team with the funds to pay him to be a bench player.
Washington – They want to be big spenders, but third base is the one position they never had to worry about.
OK, so with that little survey now done, we tabulate the results and find a grand total of two teams who might be interested in Beltre… and those two barely count. The Giants could pull a “mystery team” act and swoop in for Beltre, but their payroll is right at the same level it was last season, so the idea of them adding $15 million or so to their bill seems a bit far-fetched, especially since they have viable options at third base. If anything, the Giants are going to spend to shore up right field, not third base, if they even spend at all.
That leaves just the Texas Rangers. I refuse to believe in their rumored interest in Beltre and believe it to be a fabrication from Team Boras, but it is starting to make a little bit of sense. The Rangers lost out on Cliff Lee and whiffed on Zack Greinke, leaving them all dressed up for the Big Spenders’ Ball but with no date to bring. Rumor is that they are going to target Matt Garza next, but it could soon reach a point where Texas simply decides that they might as well just spend their money on the best free agent left, regardless of need. Thus the Beltre rumor. Texas could find a way to make Beltre fit if they had to, and don’t think for a minute that they aren’t at least intrigued by the idea of screwing over the Angels in the process. I still don’t foresee that as a likely scenario, but it is at least plausible. Just not plausible enough to scare the Angels into upping their offer.
So where does that leave Beltre? He basically has two choices: take the Angels’ offer now or wait for the Rangers to get seriously interested and hopefully start a bidding war. The latter strategy seems awfully risky, especially if Tony Reagins’ issue one of his infamous “this offer will self-destruct” deadlines. Is that the kind of risk one should take for a few extra million? It isn’t like the Angels made him a major lowball offer (if reports are true) either. Adrian is getting offered good money for a proper period of time, given his age, by a contender that is located in his preferred geographical region. When you put it like that, this deal should have been done yesterday. Perhaps someone needs to remind Adrian that while Scott Boras may be the best agent in the business, Beltre is ultimately the one who makes the final decison.