Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Angels Now Clear Front Runner for Beltre

According to Ken Rosenthal, we can now name the Angels as the official front runners in the incredibly dull Adrian Beltre sweepstakes. 
The Angels, more than ever, look like the front-runners to sign free-agent third baseman Adrian Beltre.
The A’s, who made Beltre multiple offers, pulled out of the talks this week to pursue other players, according to major-league sources.
The Rangers, while maintaining interest in Beltre, remain uncomfortable with both the price and fit, sources said. 
So the A's have officially ended talks with Beltre and Boras, which makes sense considering how they've been jerked around.  Last offseason they offered him a 3 year $24M deal, and Beltre turned it down in favor of a one year $10M deal with Boston.  This offseason, the Athletics stormed out of the gate offering him 5 years at $64M.  Rather than give them a simple yes or no, Beltre and Boras sat on the offer until A's GM Billy Beane finally pulled the offer.  According to Rosenthal's sources, Beane improved his offer to Beltre at least once, only to be rebuffed.  Rather than waste his time, Beane has started looking to redirect his resources toward bullpen options like Hideki Okajima and Chad Qualls. 

With the A's out of the running, and the Rangers stuck in neutral unless they can unload Michael Young, there appears to be a pretty clear path for Beltre ending up with the Angels.  The Angels pulled their 5 year $70M contract from the table a couple of weeks ago.  Knowing Arte Moreno's take-it-or-leave-it style of negotiating, it's hard to imagine him giving in to Boras's demands of 5/$85M.  With no clear cut competitor, I don't see any reason why the Angels should feel compelled to go to far above their original offer.

Still, things are never cut and dry with Scott Boras clients.  Mystery teams always seem to appear at the perfect time.  Not surprisingly, the mystery teams always seem to confide in Scott Boras's BFF, Jon Heyman.  Strange how that always seems to happen...

Rosenthal names a few teams that might become interested in Beltre if things fall the right way.  For instance, he opined that the Orioles may become interested if talks for LaRoche and Lee fall through.  While they have Reynolds at third already, they could move him to first to make room for Beltre.  The Orioles, having been burned several times this offseason by free agent targets, may be motivated to make a strong (and surprising) move for Beltre.  The other teams he named were the Blue Jays, Dodgers, Giants, Mariners, and Marlins.  These candidates are only possible in the most ideal of situations as they consider Beltre to be too expensive.

It's probably only a matter of time before Beltre eventually comes to terms with the Angels.  We'll just play the waiting game until that happens.  Then again, Scott Boras clients do have a tendency to end up in unexpected destinations (see Jayson Werth, Johnny Damon).

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