Rangers exercise option on Adrian Beltre; Hamilton relapse

by Dan M | Posted on Saturday, February 28th, 2015

JOSH-HAMILTON

By Dic Humphrey
dic.humphrey@yahoo.com

Position players have reported, so the Rangers’ Spring Training camp is in full swing.  So far, the biggest story for the Rangers is Adrian Beltre.  He’s in the last year of his contract with an option year for 2016.  The option vested with 586 plate appearances in 2015.  Instead, the Rangers went ahead and exercised the option this past week.
Beltre hit .324 with 19 home runs and 77 RBIs last year.  In his four years with Texas he has hit .315 and averaged 29 home runs and 94 RBIs.  He has hit 395 career home runs in a career that should earn an invitation to the Hall of Fame.  He has won four Silver Slugger Awards as the outstanding offensive player at his position.
The award began in 1980, and he is the fourth third baseman to win it four times.  (Matt Williams, Wade Boggs, and Mike Schmidt are the other three.)  Two of those four (2011 and last season) have come in a Ranger uniform.
He is an outstanding fielder, having won four Gold Glove Awards for fielding excellence; twice (2011 and 2012) since joining the Rangers.  He was among the final three third basemen considered for the award last year.
Wins above replacement (WAR) is an extremely popular measure of a player’s value.  Beltre’s career WAR is 77.8, third among active players behind Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols.
Certainly, Beltre has established himself as one of the most popular players among fans in Rangers’ history.  He has been a solid 3-4-5 hitter in the batting order for all four years with Texas, including the 2011 team that should have won the World Series.  For the playoffs that year, he hit five home runs, drove in nine and scored 14 runs in 17 games.
The Rangers negotiated a salary exchange as part of exercising the option.  Beltre agreed to take $2 million less this year in return for receiving $2 million more in the 2016 option year.  The move gives the Rangers $2 million of payroll flexibility this season.  Next year, the $6 million annual subsidy from the Tigers for Prince Fielder’s contract kicks in, such that Texas will have a new income source to pay the extra $2 million to Beltre.
The move at this time rather than after the season is good for both the player and the team.  Obviously, the Rangers were going to retain Beltre.  From the player’s side, it relieves the pressure of playing to earn the extension.
GM Jon Daniels told reporters, “It was really a no-brainer for us.  He is one of the best players in the game.  We didn’t want it to be a story this season.”

Josh Hamilton’s relapse
The news wasn’t so good for a former Ranger that was a key player in the World Series years – Josh Hamilton.  He has not reported to Angels’ training camp as he is in Houston rehabbing a shoulder injury.  There was really no time table for his return, and the Angels have not even assigned a locker to Hamilton for spring training.
The news broke this past week that Hamilton had met with MLB officials in New York.  The Angels have not commented publicly, but the team has confirmed though that Hamilton did meet with MLB officials.  CBS Sports is reporting that Hamilton was involved with cocaine and alcohol.  He supposedly reported the relapse to MLB officials.
At press time, there has been no announcement of the outcome.  Hamilton’s had incidents in 2009 and 2012 with Texas.  With that recent history, in addition to being out of baseball in 2003-’05 for drug related problems, it is likely that he’ll face a suspension of at least 25 games.
Hamilton was certainly a marvelous player for the Rangers, making the All-Star team in each of his five years with the team.  He hit 142 home runs, drove in 506 and was the A.L. MVP in 2010.  Ranger fans were disappointed when he left for the Angels, and for sure the team has not has been as good without Hamilton’s production.  However, Hamilton has struggled in the new environment.  In two seasons with the Angels, his batting average is .255 with 31 home runs and 123 RBIs.
It should be clear that the environment the Rangers created for Hamilton to deal with his drug problems was an integral part of his success with Texas.  He apparently gave little weight to this factor in selecting the Angels’ $125 million offer when he became a free agent.  It’s conjecture as to whether Hamilton would have had more success on the field had he stayed in Texas, but the good news for Ranger fans is that Hamilton is owed approximately $90 million on his back loaded contract, and the Rangers are not on the line to pay it.

SHORTS
Ranger pitchers threw live batting practice for the first time on Thursday, and the two most impressive pitchers were relievers Tanner Scheppers and Shawn Tolleson….intrasquad games are scheduled on Sunday and Monday.  The first exhibition game is scheduled for next Wednesday….Among position players, Mitch Moreland and Sin-Shoo Choo, both recovering from ankle surgery, have limited workout routines.  Non-roster invitee Kyle Blanks is also limited because of ankle tendinitis….Among pitchers, Michael Kirkman had a physical set back and is slowly getting back to 100%.  Matt Harrison and Martin Perez, both coming off significant surgeries, also have limited participation….Jurickson Profar underwent the surgical procedure to repair his shoulderlast Monday in Arlington’s Trinity Surgery Center, and has been placed on the 60-day disabled list.  He is expected to miss the entire 2015 season….The Rangers claimed left-handed relief pitcher Edgar Olmos from Seattle last Tuesday.  Olmos has made just five Major League relief appearances with the Miami Marlins (0-1, 7.20).  After adding Olmos, the Rangers

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  1. Rodney says:

    Great article on one former Ranger and a current player who has a chance at the Hall of Fame. Love watching the Rangers but Beltre’s stats are much more impressive than I realized.

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