- Fangraphs’ Craig Edwards examines the two-year, $36MM contract extension to which Adrian Beltre agreed with the Rangers, writing that Beltre’s steady excellence at the plate and in the field gives the contract significant bargain potential. Perhaps more interestingly to some, Edwards juxtaposes Beltre’s age-31 through age-36 seasons with some of the game’s all-time great players and does the same with projections for his upcoming seasons, noting that Beltre is building quite the Hall of Fame case.
Rangers GM Jon Daniels said in an appearance on 105.3 FM The Fan that his club has not made an effort to trade for an impact catcher since Robinson Chirinos’ injury (transcript via the Dallas Morning News). To this point, Daniels says that other clubs haven’t called and marketed potentially available catchers: “No, nobody has really … the guys we’ve heard from the most are the agents who have either free agent catching guys that got released out of camp, or maybe they have a catcher at Triple-A with somebody where maybe they’ve got an out or want us to trade for them.” Daniels said that the Rangers have looked into adding some more organizational depth — defense-first, quality makeup catchers — but is more focused on getting Chirinos healthy than acquiring a potential replacement.
- The Rangers’ decision to extend Adrian Beltre was “probably one of the easiest” of Jon Daniels’ tenure with the club, the GM told reporters (including T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com) yesterday during the official press conference to announce Beltre’s new two-year, $36MM contract. There was a great deal of speculation and, in fact, assumption that the two sides would work out a new deal this offseason, and Beltre joked that the negotiations weren’t settled until two weeks into the season since “I wanted Giancarlo Stanton money, 13 years and $400MM.”
- Keeping Beltre through the 2018 season won’t have any impact on top prospect Joey Gallo’s future with the Rangers, Daniels said, aside from a probable position shift. “Joey has a ton of talent and a ton of ability. He has played the outfield and played first base. Those may be options down the line. We’re not making that decision today,” Daniels said. Mitch Moreland is a free agent this winter, so first base could be Gallo’s best option given that Nomar Mazara and Shin-Soo Choo look to have the corner outfield spots spoken for in 2017 and beyond. It’s also not out of the question that Gallo could play around the diamond until Beltre’s extension is up, and then take over as the regular third baseman.
- Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram likes the Beltre extension for the Rangers, as Beltre is still producing at a high level despite just turning 37 years old. The $18MM average annual value is the cost of doing business, in terms of keeping Beltre off the open market and keeping his contract status from becoming a greater distraction throughout the rest of the year.
- In other news regarding Japanese starters, Rangers ace Yu Darvish threw a live batting practice session Sunday and will engage in another Thursday before beginning a rehab assignment with Double-A Frisco on or near April 26, T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com reports (via Twitter). Darvish is recovering from Tommy John surgery, which caused him to miss all of last season. His 50-pitch BP session Sunday drew raves from pitching coach Doug Brocail, tweets the Dallas Morning News’ Evan Grant. “The breaking ball was crisp. The slider was unbelievable,” Brocail said. “The fastball was good and hard with both two- and four-seamers. He threw strikes in a lot of good areas. As we measured it, there were a lot of 0-2 and 1-2 counts.” A May 11 return to the Rangers could be within reach for Darvish if all goes well during his rehab stint, per Grant.
- Rangers left fielder Ian Desmond has hit a stunningly poor .109/.180/.109 in 50 PAs and put up a league-worst -0.6 fWAR this year. On his difficulties so far, Desmond says (via John Henry of MLB.com), “Obviously, the results aren’t there. I’ve just missed a couple balls. I’ve made some good in-game adjustments. But I’m trying to evaluate my swing on a daily basis and not necessarily rely on results alone.” It’s perhaps worth noting that, in addition to his weak production, Desmond’s hard contact (16.1 percent) and line drive rate (9.7 percent) have plummeted to career worsts in the early going this year. That’s not particularly encouraging after Desmond experienced a stark offensive decline last season, and what he has given the Rangers certainly isn’t what they had in mind when they signed the ex-Washington shortstop to a one-year, $8MM deal in February.
Here are today’s minor moves from around the game.
- The Rangers sent lefty reliever Andrew Faulkner to Triple-A and recalled righty Nick Martinez, according to John Henry of MLB.com. Prior to the move, Faulkner tossed 4 1/3 innings for the Rangers and allowed four earned runs, five hits and three walks while striking out just one batter. Martinez logged extensive time in the majors last season, totaling 125 innings of 3.96 ERA ball with Texas. ERA estimators like FIP (4.98) and xFIP (4.99) thought far less of his performance. He’ll serve as a long reliever and spot starter for the Rangers.
- The Brewers have called up righty Zach Davies from Triple-A Colorado Springs to make a spot start against the Pirates on Sunday, per Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Twitter link). In a corresponding move, they sent outfielder Keon Broxton down to Colorado Springs. Davies, whom the Brewers acquired from the Orioles last year, fared respectably in his first big league action in 2015. In six starts (34 innings), he put up a 3.71 ERA to go along with a 6.35 K/9 and 3.97 BB/9. Broxton went without a hit and struck out 11 times in 18 plate appearances before the demotion.
- The Orioles have released righty Todd Redmond, their Triple-A Norfolk Tides affiliate tweets. The 30-year-old Redmond pitched a combined 152 innings for the Blue Jays in 2013 and 2014, appearing as both a starter and as a reliever, but spent most of last season with Toronto’s Triple-A team. The O’s signed him to a minor-league deal in November, but he struggled after being sent to Norfolk, allowing 15 runs in five innings there. In his big-league career, Redmond has a 4.25 ERA, 7.9 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in 171 1/3 innings.
- The Rangers formally announced Adrian Beltre’s two-year, $36MM extension as a press conference this afternoon. Perhaps it’s unsurprising given that the new deal takes him through his age-39 season, but Beltre says he wants to retire as a Ranger, as Stefen Stevenson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram tweets. Of course, it’s not clear whether that means Beltre will retire when his new deal ends — he remains very productive even at 37, finishing seventh in AL MVP balloting last year and getting off to a fine .283/.340/.52 start so far in 2016.
This is the latest entry in MLBTR’s Offseason In Review series. The full index of Offseason In Review posts can be found here.
The Rangers entered the offseason looking to supplement a club that made a surprise run to the AL West Division Championship after a huge splash on last summer’s trade market.
Major League Signings
- Ian Desmond, LF: One year, $8MM
- Colby Lewis, RHP: One year, $6MM
- Tony Barnette, RHP: Two years, $3.5MM (plus 2018 club option)
- Justin Ruggiano, 1B/OF: One year, $1.65MM (split contract)
- Total spend: $19.15MM
Notable Minor League Signings
- A.J. Griffin, Bobby Wilson, Michael McKenry, Cesar Ramos, Nick Tepesch, Pedro Ciriaco, Jeremy Guthrie (since released), Ike Davis, Drew Stubbs (since released)
Trades and Claims
- Acquired RHP Tom Wilhelmsen, OF James Jones (released and re-signed to minor league deal) and INF/OF Patrick Kivlehan from Mariners in exchange for OF Leonys Martin and RHP Anthony Bass
- Acquired RHP Myles Jaye from White Sox in exchange for LHP Will Lamb
- Acquired C Bryan Holaday from Tigers in exchange for RHP Myles Jaye and C Bobby Wilson
- Acquired INF Frandy De La Rosa from Cubs in exchange for RHP Spencer Patton
- Claimed 1B Andy Wilkins off waivers from Mariners (later lost Wilkins, via waivers, to Brewers)
- Yovani Gallardo, Leonys Martin, Anthony Bass, Adam Rosales, Carlos Corporan, Mike Napoli, Will Venable, Drew Stubbs
General manager Jon Daniels and his staff began the Rangers’ offseason shopping last July with the blockbuster acquisition of Cole Hamels and, not to be forgotten, stellar lefty setup man Jake Diekman from the Phillies. While the Rangers parted with a significant amount of talent, the club had the minor league depth necessary to make a trade of that magnitude without depleting its still-robust pipeline of young talent. Also not to be overlooked is Texas’ July 31 addition of Sam Dyson. While the trade seemed minor enough at the time — catcher Tomas Telis went to Miami in return — Dyson has been nothing short of a revelation in the Rangers’ bullpen and, along with Diekman, further solidified what was already a strength.
Though adding Diekman and Dyson to the late-inning duo of Shawn Tolleson and Keone Kela gave the Rangers a strong quartet, the offseason addition of Tom Wilhelmsen added another experienced arm to deepen that unit. The emergence of Delino DeShields Jr. had made Leonys Martin expendable in the eyes of the Rangers, and swapping him for Wilhelmsen saved the club a bit of cash while lengthening the ’pen and allowing Daniels & Co. to pursue an upside play elsewhere in the bullpen. With the prices of setup men ranging from expensive to borderline ludicrous this winter, the Rangers made a $500K bid for Nippon Professional Baseball star closer Tony Barnette — a former D-backs prospect who blossomed into an elite relief arm in Japan. Though Barnette had never pitched so much as an inning in the Majors, the Rangers took a $3.5MM gamble on the 32-year-old after he posted a 1.29 ERA and saved 41 games in Japan last season. The total expenditure was a fraction of what established major league relievers received and is small enough that Texas can hit the eject button without virtually any harm being done to its payroll should Barnette prove overmatched by Major League hitters.
With Hamels in the fold alongside fellow lefties Derek Holland and Martin Perez, ace Yu Darvish on the mend from Tommy John surgery, and (realistically) a lack of financial leeway, Texas looked to stabilize the rotation rather than make another dramatic upgrade via a stacked class of free agents. The result was an affordable one-year deal to bring Colby Lewis back to Texas for his seventh consecutive year. Lewis isn’t teeming with upside, but he’s been a capable innings eater and familiar face that maintained some continuity in the clubhouse for the Rangers. If necessary, Lewis can be shifted to a swingman role at some point, depending on the rest of the rotation, but as the 2014 Rangers can attest, injuries to the pitching staff can come in bunches, so it’s possible that Lewis is again asked to make 30 or more starts.
Texas looked to be largely done with its offseason spending after finishing up the Lewis contract, but the lingering presence of Ian Desmond on the free agent market was too tempting for the front office to pass up. Despite not having an infield spot for Desmond, the club added Desmond to slot in as the everyday left fielder, likely pushing the injured Josh Hamilton to a bench role upon his return.
Keep reading for more analysis after the break …
The Rangers’ hot corner will remain in the capable hands of Adrian Beltre for two more seasons after the club officially struck a deal to keep the star in Texas. Beltre, a client of the Boras Corporation, will reportedly earn $36MM in the pact.
Beltre just turned 37, but remains one of the game’s very best third basemen — as he has been for much of his excellent, 19-year career. It now seems likely that he’ll finish things off in Texas, where he’s played ever since signing as a free agent before the 2011 season.
Talks had reportedly taken place all spring, but it took a bit longer to get things across the finish line. Beltre has certainly helped his cause in the early going in 2016, recording a .310/.370/.571 slash and two long balls over his first 46 plate appearances. And he’s continued his sterling glovework with four Defensive Runs Saved already credited to his ledger.
Beltre has consistently rated as a very good-to-outstanding defender at third base, and he’s largely maintained that level of play even while entering his late thirties. Coming into the season, the biggest question was whether he could return to the top-level offensive production he carried over 2010-14, or whether last year’s dip was a sign of broader decline. While dealing with significant thumb issues, Beltre still managed a sturdy .287/.334/.453 batting line in 2015, but that fell far shy of the .316/.364/.535 slash he compiled across the five preceding campaigns.
At $18MM a year, Beltre’s new contract falls just a bit shy of the AAV achieved in the winter of 2014-15 by Pablo Sandoval, who got $95MM over five seasons. It’s easy to see why the veteran was willing to settle for a bit less to ensure that he would remain in Texas, where he’s enjoyed a phenomenal run, but the contract appears to be quite a nice investment from the team’s perspective. (The Rangers have already made out like bandits on their original contract with Beltre, which ended up paying him $96MM over six years with its 2016 option included.)
After all, Beltre has already compiled a Hall-of-Fame worthy resume — and that’s not just because of his early-career work. Indeed, he’s fourth in all of baseball among position players in total fWAR since the start of his tenure in Texas. The glove provides a strong floor, and Beltre’s bat seems a good bet to continue producing even if his 30-homer seasons are a thing of the past. He’s succeeded at the plate in large part due to impeccable plate discipline and a propensity for making frequent, hard contact.
Simply put, there’s no way that the Rangers could have found anything close to this kind of value on next year’s free agent market. Even in his “down” 2015, the veteran racked up 4.6 fWAR and 5.8 rWAR, and he seems set to do that and more with better health in 2016. Indeed, MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes noted back in February that a three-year deal of $60MM or more seemed a reasonable target on the open market next winter, had Beltre been allowed to reach it.
It’ll be interesting to see how the signing impacts the Rangers’ other decisions moving forward. The club is now locked in at third, short (Elvis Andrus), and second (Rougned Odor), yet likely expects top youngsters Jurickson Profar and Joey Gallo to be fully prepared for big league action in 2017. Either could profile as major trade chips, though there’s probably also room to be found. After all, Profar could provide insurance if Andrus can’t turn things around, and Gallo — a third baseman by trade — could factor in the outfield or slide in at first for pending free agent Mitch Moreland. If everything breaks in the club’s favor in terms of health and development, it’ll ultimately be a good problem to have.
MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan first reported that a deal was nearing and had the final salary (links to Twitter). Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reported the term and salary parameters, and tweeted that the deal was in place pending physical.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
- While the Rangers already utilized some significant prospect capital to add Cole Hamels last year, the organization could be in a position to do the same for another quality starter at this year’s trade deadline, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. The club’s blue chip youngsters surely won’t be parted with lightly, but Rosenthal says that they could be pried loose if a top-quality, controllable rotation piece can be had over the summer.