Of Adrian Beltre, Michael Young and Conspiracy Theories
Are the covert Rangers really interested in free agent third baseman Adrian Beltre and have sinister plans for Michael Young?
Or are they just staying around the periphery long enough to drive up the price at the expense of the Angels. The Red Sox like doing that to the Yankees so maybe the Rangers have been taking notes.
Or is Beltre’s agent, Scott Boras, just trying to make people think the Rangers are in after Beltre so he can extract the biggest contract possible out of the Angels. After almost three decades of doing this, Boras knows how to play this game better than anybody.
Or maybe the Rangers – now in their “Run Silent, Run Deep” mode – are trying to make Vladimir Guerrero believe that they have other options at designated hitter if he is not inclined to take their one-year contract offer.
Maybe Guerrero is up at the Grand Slam Gift Shop at the Ballpark in Arlington, where they sell hats from every Major League team. Maybe he is trying them all on, one by one, to see which one fits.
So many conspiracy theories to ponder while somewhere pitchers Arthur Rhodes and Brandon Webb are presumably taking physicals in preparation for the Rangers actually admitting that they have signed both of them.
Of course if they did that, the Rangers would also have to admit they have found spots for them on a 40-man roster that is jammed pack at the moment after the signing of Yoshinori Tateyama and selecting Mason Tobin in the Rule 5 Draft. Currently there is no room at the inn, to stay in the current holiday vernacular.
The Rangers have gone quiet during the post-holiday lull but there could be bombshells lurking somewhere, ready to come flying out of the bunker at any moment.
Back to Beltre for the moment.
The Angels are interested. The Athletics are interested, but keep dropping out, according to reports. The Rangers may be interested, depending on who you believe and what wildfire rumor actually has substance.
It was exactly two years ago at this time that the Rangers had quietly put in motion the plan to move Michael Young to third base and install Elvis Andrus at shortstop. That bombshell finally exploded just after the New Years.
So presumably if the Rangers are truly interested in Beltre, then that would presumably mean they have ulterior plans for Young. The scotch-fueled rumors at the Winter Meetings suggested the Rangers were trying to trade him, which club officials either downplayed or denied altogether. But wildfire fire fighters they are not.
Nobody on the Rangers has ever actually denied they don’t like Beltre. They do. They just don’t seem to be keen on paying him $70 million over five years. Or five years at $85 million.
Somebody must think that Beltre will be closer to the third baseman that hit .321 with 28 home runs and 102 RBI for the Red Sox last year and far away from the guy who hit .265 with eight home runs and 44 RBI for the Mariners in 2009.
The Angels supposedly offered five years at $70 million. Now there are rumblings that the Rangers have made a similar offer, plus thrown in an option year. What’s wrong with five years for a third baseman who has been over .500 in slugging and .360 in on-base percentage just twice in 13 seasons. Must be the glove.
But if the Rangers have offered that and Beltre accepted, he and Young would be making a combined $30 million for a third base/designated hitter combination. That would be over 30 percent of the Rangers payroll.
With Beltre as the third baseman and Young as the designated hitter. Beltre isn’t going anywhere to just take four hacks a game while riding the stationary bicycle in the clubhouse while his team is on defense. Word is though he likes Texas even though his home is in Southern California.
Maybe the Rangers move Young to first base. They could trade him but they would have to pick up a significant portion of his $16 million per year salary, which still has three years to run. Surely the Rangers new ownership group isn’t that flush with money no matter how many baseball caps they are selling at the Grand Slam Gift Shop.
At the Winter Meetings, club officials didn’t like the idea of signing Beltre and moving Young to first. They liked Mitch Moreland. They also said they liked Beltre but didn’t like the money it would take to sign him.
That was then, this is now. That was when they were in the running for Cliff Lee and worried that Brandon Webb faced significant odds in overcoming two years of shoulder problems.
Now Webb and 41-year-old reliever Arthur Rhodes are on board. Supposedly, although there is still no superfluous press release in hand yet. Physicals are still pending.
Webb’s shoulder issues are well-documented. Rhodes pitched through a nagging foot injury – plantar fascititis – for part of last season. It is possible the Rangers are not rushing to judgment on either player.
Or they are working on some blockbuster trade to open up room on the 40-man roster. Or still trying to get players through waivers during this post-holiday lull.
Maybe the Rangers are cooking up plans to honor Rafael Palmeiro, Juan Gonzalez and Kevin Brown at their Mid-Winter banquet just in case they are elected to the Hall of Fame next week.
So many conspiracy theories to digest during the post-holiday lull.