Veteran Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre is expected to miss at least four weeks of action after being diagnosed with a grade 2 hamstring strain, per an announcement from club executive VP of communications John Blake. With one month left in the regular season, it appears unlikely that Beltre will return in 2017 unless Texas can secure a postseason berth in his absence.
That’s unfortunate news for the Rangers, who just picked up righty Miguel Gonzalez last night to help out down the stretch. While the Rangers are on the outside looking in right now, the team is still a plausible contender with four games to make up in the AL Wild Card race.
Of course, even getting to the play-in game will be much tougher now with Beltre out. Advancing age — he’s already 38 — may well have impacted his ability to stay healthy, as Beltre has suited up for just eighty games this season. But it has not robbed him of his immense abilities on the field.
Through 341 plate appearances in 2017, Beltre is slashing .315/.393/.553 — which translates to a 145 wRC+ that tops any of his prior full-season efforts since his monumental 2004 campaign. Beltre has launched 16 long balls on the year while walking more than ever (10.9%) and continuing to make plenty of contact (12.9% strikeout rate). He’s also still a well-above-average defender, even if metrics haven’t rated him as quite the premium gloveman that he has long been.
Though he has been limited, Beltre is playing at a six-WAR pace, so he has arguably still earned the $18MM he’s owed this year. Texas will employ the future Hall-of-Famer for one more year at the same rate under the extension he signed last spring.
In Beltre’s absence, the Rangers could turn to a number of different internal options. Breakout slugger Joey Gallo could man the hot corner. The club might also give some time to Will Middlebrooks, who’s coming up as part of the wave of September call-ups. One player that isn’t making an immediate appearance in the majors, though, is former top prospect Jurickson Profar; he, too, could see action at third, if and when he returns to the majors.