Bel­tre weighs re­tir­ing or play­ing for Rangers — or else­where

Star-Telegram - - Front Page - BY JEFF WIL­SON jwil­son@star-tele­

Scott Bo­ras did what he al­ways does at MLB gath­er­ings like th­ese GM meet­ings, pick­ing a time to talk to re­porters about ways for his clients to make more money.

The big­gest Bo­ras client up for grabs in free agency is Bryce Harper, who, Bo­ras said his re­search shows, is on his way to the Na­tional Base­ball Hall of Fame. Harper is def­i­nitely headed to a mega pay­day this off-sea­son.

The next of Bo­ras’ freeagent clients to be asked about was Adrian Bel­tre, tech­ni­cally no longer with the Texas Rangers but thought to be ei­ther headed into re­tire­ment or back to Ar­ling­ton.

Per­haps Bo­ras was just try­ing to raise the pot for Bel­tre, but he said that Bel­tre is still re­garded as an above-aver­age MLB player and Bo­ras will ad­vance dis­cus­sions with other teams if Bel­tre gives the go-ahead.

In other words, Bel­tre hasn’t de­cided if he’s play­ing. In other words, it seems pos­si­ble that Bel­tre could play, but just not for the Rangers.

“It’s his right,” Rangers gen­eral man­ager Jon Daniels said. “He’s a free agent.”

All that Bel­tre is miss­ing to make his ca­reer com­plete is a World Se­ries ti­tle, and the re­build­ing Rangers, it ap­pears, aren’t go­ing to give him much of a chance at the Fall Clas­sic.

That doesn’t mean that Daniels won’t give Bel­tre

the op­por­tu­nity to re­turn to the Rangers for the 22nd sea­son of his ca­reer and his ninth with them. Daniels and Bel­tre last spoke a few weeks ago.

The plan is to let Bel­tre know within the next week how the Rangers plan to con­struct their ros­ter and how they en­vi­sion his role for 2019. If it’s not an ev­ery­day role and if a bona fide con­tender comes call­ing, it’s en­tirely fea­si­ble that Bel­tre might be done with the Rangers but not with base­ball.

“One, we haven’t put any­thing in front of him,” Daniels said. “We want to lay that out for him first and fore­most. Two, the guy’s a com­peti­tor and a guy that wants to win. I get that piece of it.”

Daniels made a few things clear:

There would be no hard feel­ings if Bel­tre chose to play else­where.

Un­til they know oth­er­wise, the Rangers have to pre­pare as if Bel­tre isn’t re­turn­ing.

Jurick­son Pro­far is likely to re­ceive the ma­jor­ity of the play­ing time at third base, as­sum­ing an in­jury doesn’t force him to an­other spot in the in­field. That’s the way the fi­nal six weeks of the sea­son played out as Bel­tre con­tin­ued to deal with a balky left ham­string.

The Rangers have a crowd of left-handed-hit­ting cor­ner out­field­ers, four of them, and the ros­ter would be bet­ter served with one of them traded. De­pend­ing on which one is moved, at-bats at des­ig­nated hit­ter could be opened for Bel­tre.

“Ideally, it works out,” Daniels said. “But we have op­tions. We’re very open to it if it’s the right sit­u­a­tion.”

But an­other sea­son pro­vides Bel­tre with no guar­an­tees at a world ti­tle or 500 home runs. He needs 23 more for 500, and has said that he doesn’t want to chase the mark to risk the chance of com­ing up only a few short and be­ing pres­sured to play in 2020.

The scene in Seat­tle on Sept. 30 as the reg­u­lar sea­son closed felt like his fi­nal game. His fam­ily watched from the stands, he gave Fe­lix Her­nan­dez a hug dur­ing the game, and he re­ceived mul­ti­ple stand­ing ova­tions at the ball­park where he spent five sea­sons of his ca­reer.

Daniels, though, will give Bel­tre the in­for­ma­tion he needs to de­ter­mine if he wants to re­turn to the Rangers or re­tire. Bo­ras will give Bel­tre the in­for­ma­tion he needs to de­ter­mine if he wants to play for a con­tender.

“We haven’t for­mu­lated ex­actly what the spot on the ros­ter would be and how that all fits,” Daniels said. “I’m go­ing to have to walk through that with him and get his thoughts.

“I agree with what Scott is say­ing from a stand­point of an eval­u­a­tion. Health per­mit­ting, he’s still a very good player. What he did in Septem­ber was spec­tac­u­lar. What is best for him and what’s best for the team and the abil­ity to DH some, I think that’s up for dis­cus­sion. If he’s back next year, plays for us or oth­er­wise, it’s not go­ing to be for pos­ter­ity. From a straight ta­lent stand­point, he more than holds his own.”

TED S. WAR­REN The As­so­ci­ated Press

Adrian Bel­tre might have walked off the field Sept. 30 for the fi­nal time. Or he might have walked off the field for the fi­nal time as a Rangers player.

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