Beltre’s retirement good for the Rangers

by Dan M | Posted on Saturday, November 24th, 2018

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BY DIC HUMPHREY
DIC.HUMPHREY@YAHOO.COM

ARLINGTON, Texas – The announcement came Tuesday morning, more than six weeks since the season ended. Adrian Beltre is retiring from baseball.
After 21 seasons, more than 3,000 hits and almost 500 home runs; the 39 year-old is calling it a career. Late this past season, he indicated that he was contemplating retirement, but if he returned for the 2019 season, he wanted to stay with the Rangers.
Two days before Thanksgiving, the Twitter universe exploded with
the news as Beltre issued a formal statement.
“After careful consideration and many sleepless nights, I have
made the decision to retire from what I’ve been doing my whole life,
which is playing baseball. These eight seasons playing in a Rangers’
uniform have been the best of my career……I owe a huge part of my
success in Texas to the amazing Ranger fans.  You guys are the best!”
He retires with a career batting average of .283 playing for
four teams over those 21 seasons with 3,166 hits, 477 of which were
home runs. He drove in 1,707 runs while playing in 2,933 games. He’s
a sure first ballot Hall of Fame inductee.
He joined the Rangers in 2011. Texas had gone to the World
Series the year before, and tried hard to retain their top starting
pitcher – Cliff Lee.  Beltre was also a free agent after the 2010
season and was thought to be a lock to sign with the Los Angeles
Angels. (He makes his home in Los Angeles.) However, Lee signed with
the Phillies, and the Angels and Beltre couldn’t agree on the money.
With Beltre available, the Rangers decided to bolster their offense
rather than chase a lesser pitcher.
Beltre signed with Texas for five years for $80 million, and
stayed for eight while making more than $100 million.  In those eight
seasons, he became one of the most endearing players to Ranger fans in
franchise history.  The team won the division in 2011 and went to the
World Series.
They were a Wild Card team in 2012, played in a game to
determine one of the A.L. Wild Card teams in 2013, and won the
division in 2015 and 2016.  The last decade has clearly been the most
successful in Ranger history, and Beltre was a huge contributor for
writing that history.
He played 1,098 regular season games as a Ranger, batting more
than 4,000 times.  He had 1,277 regular season hits producing a .304
batting average, leading the league in hits in 2013. Among those
hits, 199 were home runs.
He retires with the most hits not only by a player born in the
Dominican Republic, but the most by a Latin American born player
period. He is the only third baseman in Major League history to
accumulate more than 3,000 hits and 400 home runs.
He was an outstanding defensive third baseman. He won five Gold
Glove Awards for fielding excellence. He was also named to four
All-Star games.
The Rangers published a statement in response to Beltre’s decision.
“We have been honored to have Adrian Beltre as a Texas Ranger for
the last eight years,” said Ray Davis, Co-Chairman and Managing
Partner of the Rangers. “Adrian has represented this organization in
an exemplary fashion on and off the field, and it has been a privilege
for all of us to be associated with him.”
The Rangers have said publicly that they wanted Beltre to return
next season.  Candidly however, his retirement is probably for the
best for the Rangers.
First, Jurickson Profar certainly earned the position during the
2018 season with Beltre missing significant time to injury and often
DHing when he played. Profar established himself as a solid Major
Leaguer last season hitting .254 with 20 home runs, 77 RBIs, and 82
runs scored.  He played all four infield positions over the course
of the year, but clearly he was better offensively and defensively
when he played long stretches at one position.
Second, there is the money. Beltre made $18 million last year.
Had he returned, it undoubtedly would have been for a lesser number,
but it would still have been a significant figure – at least an eight
digit salary.  With the team in full “rebuild mode”, the money that
would have been paid to Beltre could be better spent.
He leaves a hole in the Rangers’ clubhouse. He was clearly the
clubhouse leader, the player the other Rangers looked up to.  However,
it’s time for a new leader to emerge, and that player is likely to be
Elvis Andrus.
The retirement comes as no surprise. He gave indications of
leaning that direction as the 2018 season wound to a close. Beltre
spent significant time on the disabled list early in the season with a
variety of hamstring and leg issues.  Over the second half of the
season, he spent more time at designated hitter than third base to
lessen the chance of continued injury. Truthfully, his power has
diminished dramatically over the past two seasons, and he played
through a lot of pain with the injuries.
He was honored at the last Ranger home game, coming out of the
game to a standing ovation from Ranger fans. A week later, the scene
was relived in Seattle, where Beltre spent five seasons in the prime
of his career. He’ll be missed, but it’s time for Beltre to move on to
a new phase in life.
NOTABLE:
– With Beltre’s retirement, Bartolo Colon becomes the last player in
baseball that played in the 20th century.
– After declining a team option for Robinson Chirinos in 2019, the
Rangers wasted no time in finding a replacement.  Their first free
agent signing of this off season is Jeff Mathis, a 36 year-old
journeyman catcher. Mathis has carved out a 14 year career with his
defensive excellence, as his career batting average is only .198. The
Rangers have been a poor defensive team in the past two seasons, and
this is a solid step to make the team better.  Mathis is also highly
regarded for working with pitchers, and with the anticipated onslaught
of young pitchers establishing themselves to make the Rangers
contenders again, Mathis is a great choice.  He signed a two year, $6
million deal.
– Eddie Butler was one of the players received from Chicago in the
trade of Cole Hamels.  He is a veteran Major League pitcher, and he
appeared in 22 games for Texas after the trade (all in relief) with a
1-2 record and 6.47 ERA. The Rangers waived him this month and
assigned him to AAA Nashville once he cleared waivers, but Butler
refused the assignment and opted to become a free agent.
– There is a report that Amazon has made an offer to purchase FOX
Sports Southwest, the television home of the Rangers, Mavericks and
Dallas Stars.

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