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Adrian Beltre's Worth: An Empirical Rebuttal

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So it appears that 3Bmen have a chance to stay defensively sharp into their later 30s and that Adrian Beltre may have the legitimate value of a 6 year, $78M commitment. However, "value" and "worth" are two different concepts. What interests me right now is the reality Scott Boras and Beltre are faced with: A player is only worth what the market will pay and the market ain't paying. Why not?

I don't know. The A's, with a lot of payroll flexibility, a protected draft pick, and a team on the verge of serious contention, made an early offer of 5/64 and their actions since suggest they offered what they felt Beltre was worth without intending to get into any bidding game.

If this is the case, the A's have negotiated exactly the way I negotiate in real life: "This is what I'm willing to offer/accept and if you like it, sign on; if not, I'll move on." The only thing is, while the offer of 5/64 may have been decent it was certainly not high, far from an overpay. And the A's, now looking at the possibility of losing Beltre to a division rival, now looking at a Texas team weakened by the loss of Cliff Lee, still haven't indicated that they value Beltre at more than 5/64.

Meanwhile, the Angels are on the very fringes of contention -- basically needing a significant upgrade somewhere in order to get anyone's full attention in Vegas -- with a gaping hole at 3B where the best free agent left unsigned happens to play. Yet the Angels decided to offer "just" 5/70, making it clear at the time that they did not intend to go higher. Perhaps that was all talk and posturing, but let's face it: What has transpired since, which is a whole lot of silence, only corroborates that the Angels put in what they felt was Beltre's value, expecting him to take a 5-year, West Coast offer that was clearly superior to the only other one made to him, and withdrawing the offer without intention to puruse him once the offer was refused.

The A's are never inclined to get into a bidding war and true to form, have not responded to the Angels' offer with one of their own. They were happy to pay Beltre 5/64 and appear happy not to pay him any more than that. The Angels have withdrawn their offer and so far appear more inclined to go into 2011 a .500 team on paper than to offer Beltre more than 5/70.

Perhaps major league teams have valued Beltre at $13-$14M/year for no more than 5 years, period, despite analysis like NSJ's suggesting a bigger deal could be a good value for the team signing it. Despite the spectre of Beltre signing "not with you but with your division rival." Despite the paucity of appealing free agents on the horizon -- the 2012 crop looks especially weak. Despite his suitors' position as a team that looks 80s-win good right now, but not 90-win good.

Do these teams know something we don't?