After season ending surgery for Prince Fielder and a shoulder setback that will keep Jurickson Profar out for the majority of the year, the Texas Rangers may want to start thinking about building their roster for next year. Adrian Beltre is in his fourth year of a five-year $80 million contract that includes a vesting option of $16 million for 2016. Beltre is 35 years old and has shown signs of decline this year as well as a stint on the DL. Beltre’s 2014 OPS of .814 is his lowest since 2009 with the Mariners. Beltre’s defense has also taken a turn for the worse, as the perennial gold glove winner’s 2013 and 2014 dWAR is a combined -0.1. Despite this decline, Beltre’s current line of .284/.351/.463 would be a welcomed asset to a contending team in need of middle of the lineup third baseman.
After this season, the Rangers will still owe Prince Fielder $144 million (30 of which will be paid by the Tigers) over the next five seasons. Shedding two years of Beltre’s contract could provide some much-needed payroll relief if the Rangers choose to pursue a free agent starting pitcher next off-season There’s no predicting what type of production the Rangers will get from Beltre in his age 36 and 37 seasons, but a team contending now would be much more likely to assume that risk. The New York Yankees would be a great fit for Beltre. Yangervis Solarte has been surprisingly good as a fill-in at third for the suspended Alex Rodriquez hitting .309/.386/.474; however, it may be time to tap the brakes on Solarte as its doubtful this type of production will continue. Solarte has a .321 BABIP (league average is around .290) and is a career .286/.336/.397 hitter in eight minor league seasons. The Yankees could sell high on Solarte and try to swap him to Texas for Beltre. Solarte has the upside of being a cheaper, younger option for the Rangers at third. Beltre would give the Yankees a proven three or four hitter that their lineup is lacking since losing A-Rod, and now Carlos Beltran as well, to injury.
New York has been using Jacoby Ellsbury in the three spot this year in order to compensate for lack of production. Ellsbury’s true value is in the leadoff spot, where he has more opportunities to steal and utilize his high OBP. Trading Brett Gardner to Texas for Beltre is also a viable option. Gardner’s name has been included in trade rumors before including one the Yankees reportedly turned from the Reds in exchange for Brandon Phillips. Ichiro Suzuki has a .357 batting average and a 132 OPS+ in limited playing time this season. A trade of Gardner would open up some more plate appearances for Ichiro. Solarte played 2B and Outfield in the minors, so he could also see time in the outfield if Gardner is dealt. Ellsbury would move back to the leadoff spot and Beltre could join Teixeira, Soriano, and Mcann in the heart of the New York lineup. The Yankees are currently only two games behind Toronto at the top of the AL East. An Impact bat like Beltre would give the Yanks a great chance to contend for a playoff spot in the final season of Derek Jeter.