Mac Engel

Rangers should dare Scott Boras to blink on Adrian Beltre

Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre, left, is in the final year of a six-year, $96 million contract. The Rangers have to decide if the 37-year-old future Hall of Famer is worth re-signing in 2017.
Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre, left, is in the final year of a six-year, $96 million contract. The Rangers have to decide if the 37-year-old future Hall of Famer is worth re-signing in 2017. Star-Telegram

As Prince Fielder addressed the media to discuss his sleep patterns and finally come clean that he snores loudly, teammate Adrian Beltre provided Prince with a big, white pillow and put it behind his neck.

“Get some rest,” Beltre playfully chided his teammate.

“This is a great pillow,” Fielder said.

Only in baseball are a player’s sleep and snoring a point of national concern.

This silly, wacky banter is benign and will be soon forgotten, but this is the sort of thing that makes Adrian Beltre valuable to the Rangers. Exactly how much is the debate.

The Rangers are in “active discussions” with Beltre’s agent — El Diablo De Beisbol — Scott Boras about an extension for the potential free agent.

Let me help: Don’t bother, allow Beltre to become a free agent. He’s going to be a Hall of Famer but let him go find a three-year deal elsewhere.

This will not be a repeat of the Nelson Cruz Fiasco.

Beltre will celebrate his 37th birthday next month and, while he is not your typical “Boras guy,” he will not be worth the crippling cash or to stand in the way of progress.

Beltre has been a wonderful addition to this team, but if the Rangers are as good at the farm system thing as they say, saying goodbye to Beltre will be painless.

Do as the St. Louis Cardinals did with Albert Pujols and find another guy. All the Cardinals have done since the best hitter in the game left their team is win.

Of the many players general manager Jon Daniels has buried in money, there has been no bigger hit than Beltre.

Shortly after JD handed Beltre a six-year, $96 million contract in 2011, then MLB commissioner Bud Selig called out the Rangers for approving this deal. Every winter Selig would call out one “bad contract” in a meeting with the clubs to admonish the owners as a way of saying the teams only have themselves to blame for high player salaries.

Even though I and many others ripped the deal at the time, Beltre has been a tremendous pro. He was the difference for a team that should have won the World Series in 2011.

He had a Gold Glove at third base and a bat with tremendous thump. It was Beltre’s home run in the top of the seventh inning that gave the Rangers the lead in Game 6 over the St. Louis Cardinals. (Because bringing that up every now and then is still lots of fun.)

Every part of the Beltre addition worked; he has a .309 batting average in his five years with the club, and he produced, played hurt and is the face of the team. He’s a pro and a good role model to have in a clubhouse.

And he’s going to be 37.

And if it were any other 37-year-old this would not be a discussion. The Rangers are kicking this around because Beltre may be the equivalent of Red Sox first baseman/designated hitter David Ortiz.

Big Papi aged well and remained a regular contributor on the field as well as the pro in the clubhouse and an adult in the community.

The difference is Ortiz was always a DH whereas Beltre’s value has been as a defensive player. If he loses that, and the metrics nerds say that is beginning to slide, he would have to be a first baseman/DH — a position where this club has only about 75 candidates.

Daniels has made it a point not to overpay, but he has, and Boras has taken him to the cleaners … which is his go-to move.

JD took on Fielder’s monster contract, smashed the payroll to add Shin-Soo Choo and let’s not discuss the Elvis Andrus deal. All of these were Boras Bargains.

Boras doesn’t want to let Beltre hit the market; despite his rhetoric he knows there may not be a demand for a 37-year-old who has played 19 major league seasons. And Boras doesn’t want to go short on a Beltre deal.

Historically, once a Boras player has hit the market he does not return to his former team. Boras always finds an owner willing to turn off his brain and overpay.

Best case is the Rangers offer a one-year deal with a club option for a second at a reduced number. The chances of Boras accepting that are as good as his accepting the Nobel Peace Prize.

Beltre has been around long enough to tell his agent he’s doing what he wants. If he wants to stay, Boras works for him — a point many of his clients choose to forget.

The Rangers have let prime-time guys go — like Cruz. But Cruz was 32, and Daniels simply whiffed that deal.

JD and the Rangers sell hard that they have prospects and, if they believe that, Beltre cannot remain at a big number. He is worth only at their terms.

There is a replacement here — think Joey Gallo. Gallo was the starting third baseman in the Rangers’ game Friday against the Brewers and hit a three-run home run in the second inning. He strikes out too much, but at some point the club has to see if he can do it. Remember, he’s only 22.

Gallo won’t be at third base this season because Beltre is not going anywhere.

Unless the deal is perfect for the Rangers, Beltre should not be their third baseman in 2017.

Listen to Mac Engel every Tuesday and Thursday on Shan & RJ from 5:30-10 a.m. on 105.3 The Fan.

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