Scott Boras did what he always does at MLB gatherings like these GM meetings, picking a time to talk to reporters about ways for his clients to make more money.
The biggest Boras client up for grabs in free agency is Bryce Harper, who, Boras said his research shows, is on his way to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Harper is definitely headed to a mega payday this off-season.
The next of Boras’ free-agent clients to be asked about was Adrian Beltre, technically no longer with the Texas Rangers but thought to be either headed into retirement or back to Arlington.
Perhaps Boras was just trying to raise the pot for Beltre, but he said that Beltre is still regarded as an above-average MLB player and Boras will advance discussions with other teams if Beltre gives the go-ahead.
In other words, Beltre hasn’t decided if he’s playing. In other words, it seems possible that Beltre could play, but just not for the Rangers.
“It’s his right,” Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. “He’s a free agent.”
All that Beltre is missing to make his career complete is a World Series title, and the rebuilding Rangers, it appears, aren’t going to give him a much of a chance at the Fall Classic.
That doesn’t mean that Daniels won’t give Beltre the opportunity to return to the Rangers for the 22nd season of his career and his ninth with them. Daniels and Beltre last spoke a few weeks ago.
The plan is to let Beltre know within the next week how the Rangers plan to construct their roster and how they envision his role for 2019. If it’s not an everyday role and if a bona fide contender comes calling, it’s entirely feasible that Beltre might be done with the Rangers but not with baseball.
“One, we haven’t put anything in front of him,” Daniels said. “We want to lay that out for him first and foremost. Two, the guy’s a competitor and a guy that wants to win. I get that piece of it.”
Daniels made a few things clear:
▪ There would be no hard feelings if Beltre chose to play elsewhere.
▪ Until they know otherwise, the Rangers have to prepare as if Beltre isn’t returning.
▪ Jurickson Profar is likely to receive the majority of the playing time at third base, assuming an injury doesn’t force him to another spot in the infield. That’s the way the final six weeks of the season played out as Beltre continued to deal with a balky left hamstring.
▪ The Rangers have a crowd of left-handed-hitting corner outfielders, four of them, and the roster would be better served with one of them traded. Depending on which one is moved, at-bats at designated hitter could be opened for Beltre.
“Ideally, it works out,” Daniels said. “But we have options. We’re very open to it if it’s the right situation.”
But another season provides Beltre with no guarantees at a world title or 500 home runs. He needs 23 more for 500, and has said that he doesn’t want to chase the mark to risk the chance of coming up only a few short and being pressured to play in 2020.
The scene in Seattle on Sept. 30 as the regular season closed felt like his final game. His family watched from the stands, he gave Felix Hernandez a hug during the game, and he received multiple standing ovations at the ballpark where he spent five seasons of his career.
Daniels, though, will give Beltre the information he needs to determine if he wants to return to the Rangers or retire. Boras will give Beltre the information he needs to determine if he wants to play for a contender.
“We haven’t formulated exactly what the spot on the roster would be and how that all fits,” Daniels said. “I’m going to have to walk through that with him and get his thoughts.
“I agree with what Scott is saying from a standpoint of an evaluation. Health permitting, he’s still a very good player. What he did in September was spectacular. What is best for him and what’s best for the team and the ability to DH some, I think that’s up for discussion. If he’s back next year, plays for us or otherwise, it’s not going to be for posterity. From a straight talent standpoint, he more than holds his own.”