When the Mariners signed Adrian Beltre after the 2004 season to a 5 year/$65 million dollar contract, expectations were sky high. Beltre's 2004 campaign was his best to date as he mashed 48 home runs, hit .334, scored 104 runs, and drove in 121 runs. After so many mediocre seasons, it finally looked like Beltre had evolved into the star and franchise player that so many in the Dodgers organization thought he'd be.
However, in the five years since the Mariners signed Beltre, one thing has become clear: Beltre is not a franchise player. During his tenure with the Mariners, Beltre never hit more than 26 home runs, drove in 100 runs, or hit anywhere close to .300.
With that said, Beltre can still be a very productive player on a good team. He does certain things pretty well and even with his diminished numbers, he can still handle the bat pretty well. What kind of deal can Beltre expect on the open market? Let's dive in:
The Case for Beltre
According to fangraphs, Beltre is one of the best defensive third basemen in baseball. His UZR/150 this season is a impressive 12.6, which is actually down from his UZR/150 of 15.7 last season! Those are some incredible numbers for a third baseman. And by the way, Beltre is a two time gold glove award winner....not too shabby.
While Beltre may never come close to hitting 40+ home runs again, there is no denying that he's still got some power in his bat. In each of the three previous seasons before this one, Beltre hit at least 25 home runs, which is some nice production at the hot corner.
However, this season Beltre has only hit 5 home runs in 338 at bats. Did the injuries eliminate a majority of Beltre's power? One has to wonder...
Even though it feels like Beltre has been around forever, he is only 30 years old. Beltre still should have a number of productive seasons left.
The Case against Beltre
What holds Beltre back from becoming a dangerous power hitter is his lack of discipline at the plate. Beltre has never had an OBP higher than .330 or walked more than 50 times in any of the past five seasons. At this point in his career, Beltre is what he is...for better or for worse.
Even though Beltre has always been healthy, we have to ask the health question simply because Beltre has missed lots of time this season. While we understand that the testicle injury was a freak accident, it'd be nice to see how productive Beltre is post shoulder surgery.
The group of free agent third basemen (outside of Chone Figgins) can be aptly described as injury prone. Just take a look at this group: Troy Glaus, Hank Blalock (first baseman at this stage in his career), Joe Crede, and Troy Glaus. So even with all his injuries in 2009, you can make a very strong case that Beltre is the 2nd best third baseman on the market.
Elias Ranking: Type B
Nothing to see here, folks. There's little/no chance that the Mariners would offer Beltre arbitration and risk owing Beltre between $12-$15 million in 2010.
(rankings courtesy of MLBTR)
Your guess is as good as mine on this one. Beltre missed a good portion of the 2009 season because of shoulder surgery and the now famous testicle injury (wear a cup!). If Beltre can come back healthy and productive in September, then I'm sure teams would be more likely to give him a multi year deal.
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