With the sun setting on the 2018 season, Adrian Beltre ponders retirement. Would hanging it up be best for the Texas Rangers?
As we enter the final few weeks of the 2018 season, perhaps the biggest decision relating to the Texas Rangers organization moving forward is whether or not Adrian Beltre will return to the club for one more year. The 39-year old is known to be considering retiring after the conclusion of his 21st season in Major League Baseball. Hampered by hamstring issues this season, it’s no secret that age is starting to take is toll on the future Hall of Famer.
Despite this, it’s not like he hasn’t been performing when healthy. Although it’s technically a down year by Beltre’s standards, he still is putting together an impressive .275 season at the plate. Tack on 10 home runs and 51 RBIs and it’s proof that Adrian still is a productive hitter. Defensively he hasn’t slowed down much either still showing he has a cannon for a right arm. He’s lost a bit of a step with regards to his range but is still a capable player. So if Adrian is still capable of being productive, why would it be better off for the Rangers if he retired? Well there’s a couple of reasons but in short, Texas must develop his replacement. Going into 2019, nobody should have illusions that the Rangers will be competitive in the division or the Wild Card race. So now focus shifts to 2020 when many believe Texas could make some noise again.
This season, the Rangers have seen young infielders Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Jurickson Profar have breakout years. Both players have established them as reliable hitters and good utility players defensively. Both have also logged time at third base and in my mind, one of them is the replacement for Adrian Beltre. With the idea that one of these two is going to replace Adrian Beltre, delaying this another season doesn’t make much sense. If Adrian Beltre were to come back in 2019 all it would do is push back one of these two becoming an everyday player.
Jurickson Profar seems the more likely of the two to start everyday at third base. Batting .255 in 126 games this season, Profar is showing flashes of the potential that made him the number one prospect in baseball just a few years ago. He’s shown the ability to be an everyday player for the Rangers and now is the time to jump on his potential and make sure he’s being developed properly. With Profar as your starter, Isiah Kiner-Falefa takes over the role of the main utility man for Texas. With the ability to split time as both a catcher and an infielder, Beltre’s retirement would give a bit more playing time to the Rangers breakout fan favorite.
Obviously this is a decision that won’t come lightly to either Adrian or the Rangers. Playing time isn’t the only factor in the decision. The Rangers and Beltre will have to come to terms on a new deal for the 2019 season and Adrian’s departure will cause a big shift in a locker room that Adrian has been a leader in for a number of years.