It looks like Adrian Beltre is almost certainly about to be a Ranger, and it looks like he's going to make a lot of money doing it. Still, early reports of "a six-year, near-$100 million deal" were a bit misleading. Most likely, it's a sixth year vesting option worth a lot of money, and a much more reasonable five-year deal leading up to that. Even Grant compares it to the deal Kevin Millwood got, where Scott Boras gets to proclaim he signed his client for big bucks, ignoring how much of it is actually guaranteed.â†µ
My first reaction is it's an okay deal, nothing I'm too excited about (long term), but nothing terrifying. Ideally, that makes sense. If the deal seems great at first blush, then a great agent managed to get swindled. If it looks awful, then a great front office was pretty darn stupid. In theory, a deal for a quality, aging free agent will hurt, but not too much, and that's where I feel the five-year, ~$80 million guaranteed Beltre is rumored to be getting falls. To say nothing of keeping him away from another division opponent.â†µ
There's certainly fear attached, and those expressing concern are not out of line. There's also excitement, though those proclaiming this a big win for the Rangers might want to think about what it means to pay a 36-year-old $16 million, to say nothing of an option that is likely to vest if the rest of the contract ends up being worth it. Still, nothing wrong with unbridled optimism; even if unwarranted, as long as you're not in the front office, it's not hurting anyone. Have at. And even if you don't feel like being optimistic, let's wait until the final figures come out before getting upset.â†µ
Another thing: get that "only plays in contract years, sucks the rest of the time" crap out of your brain. His whole career to this point he's been, almost without fail, solid at worst, and at times great. If you consider the fact that he's almost always played in stadiums that dampen offensive numbers, only his age 21 season is something you should even consider calling a "bad" year, and, since then, he's average something in the range of All-Star to elite. He's typically an above average hitter at a position of middling value with great defense. Yes, he's had two great contract years, but he's been no slouch the rest of the time, either.â†µ
That said, if you're expecting a repeat of his 2010, you're probably too optimistic, as well. That's okay, it won't take even close to 2010 to justify the contract, just something closer to what he's been in recent seasons otherwise. The time to judge just how good Beltre's contract looks on paper and what he means for the 2011 Texas Rangers is probably coming soon.