Heading into the 2004 season, Los Angeles Dodgers’ Adrian Beltre was known as a solid, everyday third baseman. He would hit around 20 HR’s, bat somewhere in the neighborhood of .260 to .275, and he would drive in around 70-85 runs during the course of the year. Good stats, but nothing spectacular.
However, in 2004, Adrian Beltre went from good to spectacular. Beltre actually made a run at the National League triple crown. Beltre finished fourth in the NL in batting (.334), fourth in RBI (148), and first in HR (48) in 2004.
His career year couldn’t have come at a better time for Beltre. After the 2004 season, Beltre was a free agent. With this type of year, a big contract was in order. On December 17, 2004 Beltre got exactly what he was looking for. The Seattle Mariners signed Adrian Beltre to a five-year, $64MM contract.
Fast forward five years later and Adrian Beltre was facing the same situation he was facing in 2004 – he would be a free agent after the season. Beltre has averaged a .266 average, 23 HR’s and 88 RBI with the Mariners from 2005-2008. Just like when was with the Dodgers – good, but nothing spectacular.
It was all set up for Beltre. Have another great year going into free agency, and he would get paid. Unfortunately for Beltre, the baseball gods are a fickle bunch. If you get overpaid once, they will allow it. But twice? Not going to happen.
Bothered by a bad shoulder, Beltre is having a down 2009. In 72 games, Beltre has a hitting line of .259/5/30 and a feeble .291 OBP. This poor hitting line coupled with the news that Beltre will now be out six to eight weeks because he will have surgery to remove bone spurs in his elbow, means there will be no five-year, mega-deal for Beltre.
Beltre had everything going for him when he was a free agent in 2004. He was young (26 years old), he was coming off a season where he finished second in the MVP voting, and the economy had recovered nicely from September 11.
Going into free agency in 2009, Beltre has nothing working for him. He will be 31 years old on Opening Day 2010, he will be coming off a down year in which had shoulder surgery in the middle of the season, and by all projections the economy will still be in a rut.
Add everything together and Beltre is perhaps looking at a one-year deal in the offseason. What a difference five years makes for Adrian Beltre.