It pains me to say it, Texas Rangers fans, but it may be time to start preparing your goodbyes to one of the all-time greats in a Texas uniform.
There is perhaps no more beloved player in the history of the Texas Rangers than third baseman Adrian Beltre (nods to Nolan Ryan, Pudge Rodriguez, Michael Young, and hell, even former skipper Ron Washington). Signed in 2011 after the Rangers first World Series appearance against the San Francisco Giants, Beltre immediately made an impact with the club, hitting .296 with 32 home runs in his first season with Texas while collecting his third Gold Glove (with two more to come in 2012 and 2016).
Beltre’s career as a Ranger has been nothing short of incredible. From 2011-2017, Beltre compiled a .308/.361/.518 line, while averaging 31 doubles, 26 home runs, and playing the aforementioned Gold Glove-caliber defense. His collected his 3,000th hit in 2017, and has stated that he wishes to enter into the Hall of Fame as a Ranger. Surely, nobody will ever wear his #29 in Arlington again.
Texas has a difficult decision to make with Beltre, as, sadly, the window for him to win a World Series as a Ranger has closed.
While injuries have caught up to Beltre in the past two seasons, when he’s on the field, his production is still well above average. Additionally, his work ethic and leadership remain unquestioned throughout the game. This is Beltre’s final year under contract with Texas, and there are questions about his time remaining in Arlington.
Make no mistake about it: Texas would love to keep Adrian Beltre, and it sounds like Adrian Beltre would love to remain a Ranger for the duration of his career. The 39-year-old has remained mum about his plans post 2018, but one has to wonder whether or not a World Series might signal retirement for the future first ballot Hall of Famer.
Texas has a difficult decision to make with Beltre, as, sadly, the window for him to win a World Series as a Ranger has closed. With the Rangers very openly preparing for future greatness, fans must begin to accept that their beloved third baseman is very likely to finish his career with a different team. We can all envision the joy that will be Beltre signing a one day contract in Texas, and retiring as a Ranger — but the interim between then, and now, seems awful and difficult and daunting.
If there is good news, it’s that Rangers fans would love to root for a Beltre World Series run in 2018, even if it is with another team (with some exceptions, to be sure). Beyond that, the return on a healthy (key word) Adrian Beltre should be, if not substantial, at least very, very promising.
If we must (and, yes, we must), let’s look at which teams seem likeliest to pursue Adrian Beltre at any point between now and the July 31st trade deadline. As always, these are long shots (and often total guesses), but the improvement that Beltre would represent at the hot corner for these five (six?) teams is undeniable.