In our group chat a couple of days ago, Ian was asking for suggestions for trade targets for his latest piece. I had already given this subject some thought and I had two names in mind. One was Jed Lowrie, a guy I’ve always been a big fan of and would love it if he came to Atlanta. The other was Adrian Beltre. Ian did not mention Beltre in his piece, and neither did the other Brandon in his piece about the Braves’ current situation at third base. But I’m looking to die on this particular hill today folks, so hear me out. The Braves should look into trading for Adrian Beltre.
Beltre is a hall of famer. Whether you believe it is because he has 3080 hits and 463 home runs, or because he has a career 83.5 fWAR, we’re on the same page here. He’s also been around a very long time. Since 1998, in fact. In those 21 years for the Dodgers, Mariners, Red Sox, and Rangers, he’s made it to one lone World Series, which he lost. The Rangers are bad. They’ve been bad. 2016 proved to be somewhat of a fluke, and their entire division got better around them for the most part. They are a sinking ship with a lot of dead weight contracts and aging veterans.
Though father time has zapped Beltre’s durability, it hasn’t much affected his bat. In fact, his bat is much like that of a fine wine cliche. He put up a 138 wRC+ last season in 389 plate appearances. Adrian Beltre is a better hitter than Chipper Jones was at his age. He may not be able to go 5 days straight anymore, but with the likes of Johan Camargo, who has shown to be weirdly better with less playing time given to him, you might be able to treat the situation like the Braves had with Chipper and, uh… Juan Francisco of all people.
Sure, different front office, but Alex Anthopoulos’ commented last month on how he likes Camargo as a utility option. Being able to insert a steady right-handed offensive presence at their worst offensive position for the 80% remaining this year would stabilize the Braves, especially if Markakis or the catching duo’s bats begin to cool off.
I’m obviously 100% aware of the fact that Rangers would much sooner rather trade the likes of “hurt” Cole Hamels, old hurt Shin-Soo Choo, or really actually hurt Elvis Andrus, but mildly hurt Beltre is still owed roughly $13M for the rest of this season, and he hasn’t played since May 13th, and is expected to miss at least a couple of weeks with a hamstring strain. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic wrote Friday about how the Rangers are listening on all veteran players and corroborated my original thinking that Beltre, who has earned north of $200M in his career and is going on 40 years of age, is only playing for a ring at this point. And Texas cannot give him that. But being a veteran cog in one of the best young teams in the game? Something tells me Beltre wouldn’t mind being a part of that. Also, with the possibility of a full rebuild on top of Beltre’s age, it’s possible that he could retire at years end, leaving the Rangers with effectively nothing to show for it.
What might the return be? I really don’t know. I’d assume the Braves would ask Texas to foot a good chunk of the bill given their penny pinching after the Matt Kemp trade this offseason, so I’d expect it to include at least one of Atlanta’s top young arms Maybe Fried and a bullpen piece could get it done, or perhaps they would insist on something wild like Kyle Wright and Cristian Pache? I really don’t know what exactly is fair here, considering Beltre’s age, salary, recent injuries, and Texas having virtually zero leverage considering the reasons listed above. I feel like a Max Fried and Lucas Sims package would be enticing enough for the Rangers to part with Beltre while retaining 90% of his contract. With Bartolo Colon as their best pitcher so far this year, the Rangers also have the opportunity to give Sims another chance to start, given that they could also move Cole Hamels before the deadline.
It’s looking more and more like the Braves will need to go outside of the organization this year for third base help. Austin Riley is more than likely not going to be ready this year, and shouldn’t be rushed. Jose Bautista wasn’t the answer, neither is Ryan Flaherty. Johan Camargo could probably get the job done, but if the Braves want to double down on this year, a veteran future hall of famer isn’t the worst horse to bet on.