The Rangers are interested in extending Adrian Beltre beyond the 2016 season, which is slated to be the final year of his contract, GM Jon Daniels told reporters, including MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan (Twitter link). The team’s hope is that Beltre will finish his potentially Hall-of-Fame career as a member of the Rangers.
Guaranteeing Beltre a contract into his age-38 season (or beyond) more than a year in advance carries risk, to be sure, but he remains a quite productive player despite the fact that he’ll turn 37 in April. Beltre just completed a season in which he batted .287/.334/.453 despite battling through a serious thumb injury and some late back issues as well. (Beltre’s surgically repaired thumb is healing well this offseason, Sullivan added above.) And, in spite of his relatively advanced age, Beltre still drew rave reviews from defensive metrics in 2015 (+18 DRS, +11.8 UZR).
While contemplating the risk associated with Beltre’s age and recent injury history, the Rangers must consider the future of prospect Joey Gallo. The left-handed hitter possesses as much pop as anyone in baseball, with scouts placing an 80-grade on his power. Gallo has 40-homer potential in the Majors, though he also brings a propensity for strikeouts with that power upside, and there’s no guarantee that he’ll stick at third base. The Rangers began playing him in left field in 2015 and could permanently transition him to the outfield, clearing a path to playing time for Beltre in 2017 while still finding a way to work Gallo’s bat into the lineup if he can improve on his contact abilities.
It’s not clear exactly how long Beltre hopes to continue his playing career, but because he remains so productive, it’s easy to envision him seeking multiple years beyond the upcoming campaign. Productive elder statesmen such as David Ortiz and Carlos Beltran have recently signed away their age-38 and age-39 seasons for $15-16MM per season, though Beltre, of course, comes with significantly more defensive value than either player.