Any team casting about for a free agent third baseman could do worse than to pursue a man with two Gold Gloves who has averaged 143 games, 150 hits, 34 doubles 20 home runs, 79 RBI and 10 stolen bases over the last five years.
Yes, folks, that would be Adrian Beltre.
The same Beltre who chased neck-high pitches and swung from his shoes, who signed a deal with Seattle that – counting his $7 million signing bonus – averaged $12.8 million a year.
What’s the market for Beltre? If you read the speculation, some of it fueled by agent Scott Boras, Beltre has the complete attention of the Red Sox, Orioles, Phillies, Twins and Giants.
At 30, there’s no reason to expect Beltre’s defense to drop off, and it is extraordinary. As a right-handed hitter, Safeco Field did him no favors, so not playing 81 games there – and perhaps playing 81 in, say, Fenway Park or Camden Yards, might make him a 25-30 home runs hitter.
Coming off a year where injuries and a poor approach at the plate left him batting .265 in 111 games, with an on-base percentage of just .304, may force Beltre to accept an incentives-filled contract.
Then again, thanks to Boras, perhaps not.
The Mariners have moved on, and are looking for options of their own at third base. Matching Beltre’s power numbers of 2009 – eight home runs and 44 RBI – shouldn’t be hard.
Seattle has in-house candidates like rookie Matt Tuiasosopo, Bill Hall, Jack Hannahan and even Jose Lopez. None automatically inspires much confidence.
What they wouldn’t mind is a player who could average 143 games, 150 hits, 34 doubles 20 home runs, 79 RBI and 10 stolen bases for the next few years.
Of course, it wouldn’t hurt if he’d throw in a Gold Glove or two.
– Gary Sheffield may be 41, but he’s not a man lacking confidence that he can still hit a baseball. He’s dropped his agent, Boras, and now represents himself. Boston’s Nick Cafardo interviewed him and got this quote:
“After talking to my wife and kids, they want me to get 3,000 hits [he’s at 2,689]. I want to keep playing, and I know I can go out and hit at least 25 and maybe up to 40 home runs for some team if I get the chance,” Sheffield said.
Nick’s list of teams who could use Sheffield: the Mariners, Giants, Braves, Mets, Cardinals, Rays, Twins, Orioles, A’s, and Rangers
– Ex-Mariner Jose Guillen was limited to 81 games for Kansas City last year – remember, he hurt his knee adjusting his uniform at one point – and the Royals would love to move him.
The New York Daily News says the Mets have interest, especially if they don’t land free agents Matt Holiday or Jason Bay. Guillen is owed $12 million in 2010.
– If you have no idea what WAR is, you’re probably not into sabermetrics. Increasingly, new stats are coming into play, and Tyler Kepner writes in the New York times that they played a role in Zack Greinke and Tim Lincecum winning their Cy Young Awards.
– The Baltimore Orioles have only $45 million committed to contracts for 2010, which means they have plenty of money to spend. Two players apparently high on their shopping list: Seattle free agents Erik Bedard and Beltre.