Texas Rangers

Rangers' deadline dilemma: Find trade for Beltre or keep him for 2018, beyond

Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre can be a free agent after the season, and should be traded to a contender for prospects the team needs.
Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre can be a free agent after the season, and should be traded to a contender for prospects the team needs.

The 20th anniversary of Adrian Beltre's MLB debut arrived Sunday with him right where he's been for most of his playing days since 2011, at third base and batting fourth for the Texas Rangers.

Note that it was just the Rangers, not the playoff-contending Rangers. Despite public outcry, that's where the Rangers have been the majority of Beltre's eight seasons with them.

But they aren't this season and won't be, and that has Beltre somewhere he has rarely been — on the trading block.

The Rangers aren't calling teams ahead of the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline to tell them of the future Hall of Famer's availability. They don't need to. Contending teams know the landscape.

And here's what the Rangers are saying: They are willing to work with contenders on a number of scenarios involving a number of players. That includes Beltre, left-hander Cole Hamels, outfielder/DH Shin-Soo Choo, lefty reliever Jake Diekman and closer Keone Kela.

What they might not be telling teams is they have interest in keeping Beltre this season and beyond.

A source said that to trade Beltre will require a package that would outweigh the benefits the Rangers see in keeping him the rest of 2018 and trying to convince the impending free agent to re-sign for at least 2019.

While they are in a developmental phase, the Rangers believe Beltre can be an integral part of that as a veteran leader who can pass along his 21 season of experience to younger players.

Rangers general manager Jon Daniels has told Beltre that he will be kept abreast of any deals that might come along, a source said. The expectation is that a contender will give Daniels something to take to Beltre.

The question becomes if Beltre would accept a trade. The combination of 10 years in MLB and five years with the same team allows him full no-trade protection, and he said after last year's trade deadline that there are no guarantees that a trade would produce the world championship he desires.

He also fells a sense of loyalty to the Rangers, who have given him multiple chances at the playoffs and made him fabulously wealthy. He and his family also enjoy living part time in Dallas-Fort Worth.

Contenders don't need to be told that Beltre won't come cheap, that he can nix any trade, and that his 39-year-old legs have put him on the disabled list twice this season.

Texas Rangers ace Cole Hamels said Tuesday that it’s too early to think about being traded at this year’s deadline. He beat the New York Yankees, a potential suitor.

Or that Hamels can veto trades to 20 teams, that he would be owed a minimum of $16 million, and that he reported wants his $20 million option for 2019 picked up if he is to accept a trade to one of teams on his no-trade list.

Of the contenders, some are flirting with the cutoff for the competitive-balance tax, or luxury tax, of $197 million. Teams that go over the threshold must pay a 20 percent tax for each dollar over the limit and face a 12 percent surcharge if the overage is from $20 million to $40 million.

The New York Yankees, believed to be the front-runner for Hamels, are on his no-trade list and are below the luxury-tax limit.

Just about every contender could afford Diekman and Kela, but the Rangers would likely have to eat a significant amount of the reminder of Choo's contract (approximately $50 million) to move one of the top on-base hitters in MLB.

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