All it took was people reading the words Pirates and Adrian Beltre in the same sentence in this article for the emails and questions to begin rolling in. I know it’s not every day that you hear about the Pirates going after big-name free agents, but for those of you who are already finding out what size uniform he’ll need, let’s temper those expectations for a bit.
One thing to consider given the myriad rumors you’re going to hear over the next few months is that just because a team calls an agent to find out an asking price, that doesn’t mean that team will become a true bidder for that player. It’s Neal Huntington’s job as a general manager to make calls and find out player expectations. A lot of those conversations will never include a second phone call. Others will. That’s the beauty of this time of year.
When it comes to the top crop of free agents — and it’s fair to put Beltre in that category this year after his stellar 2010 season — most teams are going to put out feelers. Again, GMs wouldn’t be doing their jobs if they didn’t. But making a phone call is just that. It’s simply a phone call.
Now, while I’m not inferring that the Pirates aren’t going to be willing to spend this offseason, I just don’t see anything working out with Beltre. Here are a few reasons why:
- Beltre is unquestionably the top third baseman available in the free agent market this winter. That, alone, increases his value. It means the suitors are going to be numerous, and it often can mean a player gets more than he might actually be worth.
- Beltre’s agent is Scott Boras, who isn’t going to be providing any discounts. Through Boras, Beltre already turned down a $10 million option to stay with the Red Sox in 2011. That means two things. 1. Beltre believes he can get more on the open market. 2. He’s likely seeking a multi-year deal after an All-Star season. More guaranteed money is always the way to go.
- In explaining his decision to turn down the option, Beltre told members of the Boston media that two factors will play into his decision on where he signs for 2011. Those would be: chances of winning and family considerations. Given the Pirates’ string of losing seasons, Pittsburgh isn’t likely to meet Beltre’s first requirement. Furthermore, his family lives on the West Coast, so moving from Boston to Pittsburgh wouldn’t do much to help that strain.
- If the Pirates were to make a serious run at Beltre, they would have to allocate the majority of their available dollars to lock him down. What would that mean for the holes in the starting rotation? Well, it would mean the club would be limited in their external options to fill those holes. In my opinion, improving the starting pitching has to be a big priority this offseason if the club wants to take steps forward in 2011, and a good chunk of the Pirates’ available resources — not just a few leftover dollars — need to address this deficiency.
This is all just food for thought… and a way to hopefully stop the influx of Beltre emails. Again, keep in mind that much of what you will read over the next few months will never come to fruition. Rumors are often just rumors. And sometimes the deals that end up panning out are the one you don’t hear about until the last minute. Sure, it’s fun for you to speculate. And it’s my job to try and bring in the sound reason.
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