At least Adrian Beltre still has his sense of humor. As for his sense of where he will be Wednesday, he said that he has no idea.
Wednesday is the day after the annual nonwaiver trade deadline, and as of Saturday the Texas Rangers had not presented him with any proposals to reject or accept.
But he continues to find himself on the trading block, though in full control of his future thanks to his full no-trade rights. Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said as recently as Friday that the Rangers hold him in higher regard than just for his on-field performance.
Beltre also continues to find himself torn between his desire to win a World Series and his loyalty to the Rangers. He isn’t sure what he will do if Daniels finds a deal that is good for the club and for Beltre.
“Ultimately, for me, it’s I want to win,” Beltre said. “And I’m caught up in between the organization that gave me the chance to win for many years, the organization that trusted me enough to sign me to multi-year contracts multiple times. The fans, I could ask nothing better than the way the Texas fans have received me in this state.
“But, ultimately, I do want to win. It’s a difficult situation for me. And, obviously, if I get traded to a team that has a chance to win, we might not end up getting there. It’s going to come along if the right situation works for both parties.”
The one thing holding Beltre back from accepting a trade is whether he plans to retire or play another season. He said on Saturday that if he plays in 2019, he wants to do so with the Rangers.
If Beltre can receive assurances from Daniels that he will be re-signed, he might be more open to accepting a trade.
Daniels, though, made it sound Friday as if a team wants Beltre it will need to pay to get him because of how much the Rangers value him.
“His value to us is different than his performance or statistical line,” Daniels said. “We’ve got the most games played by players under 25 years old in the big leagues. We’re a young group. The value of Adrian with that group is real. The value of Adrian’s legacy with our organization is real. He and I have had a number of conversations. I’m not saying that a deal can’t happen — it may — but there are some different elements at play for us.”
Beltre has already topped 3,000 hits and entered Saturday 33 home runs shy of 500. He is a shoo-in for the National Baseball Hall of Fame five years after he retires.
He came within one out of a world title in 2011, only to see the St. Louis Cardinals spoil the Rangers’ dreams. He has been to the postseason four times with the Rangers, but they were eliminated in the final week last season, won’t be going this season and appear to be headed to another down season in 2019.
But he doesn’t want to go to a team and not be allowed to contribute significantly along the way. He wants to earn his ring, not just be a pinch-hitter and team leader.
“It’s going to come down to what works for the team and what works for me,” Beltre said. “A chance for me to — if we go down that route —actually be part of that team, not just sitting on the bench. A chance for me to play. I’m not going to specifically say, ‘I need to play every day,’ but contribute to that team to win the World Series. But it’s a matter of what that team needs and what their offer to the Rangers looks like.”
The Atlanta Braves have been mentioned as a potential fit, in part because former Rangers manager Ron Washington is their third-base coach, but a source said that the Braves aren’t sure if Beltre wants to be traded. The Braves’ talent-rich farm system could easily satisfy the Rangers’ demands.
The Cleveland Indians have also been linked to Beltre, even though they have All-Star third baseman Jose Ramirez. But Ramirez can also play second base, where Jason Kipnis has struggled this season, and a move there could create an opening for Beltre.
But there are no guarantees that a move to a contender will produce that ring Beltre is seeking. He hasn’t been given the option yet.
“I think it’s premature, because the ball is going to be in my court once they agree to something and I have to say yes or no,” he said. “I’m playing today. That’s what I know.”