If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.
This famous saying serves not only as a motivational tool, but also as a solid offseason philosophy for small-market general managers.
Twins’ general manager Bill Smith has made overtures for current free agent third baseman, Adrian Beltre on two previous occasions and—if he’s smart—will be making one final effort this winter.
The Twins were linked to Beltre at the 2008 trade deadline and again last offseason.
No deal was ever worked out and Beltre finished out his five-year, $64 million contract with the Seattle Mariners.
Now Beltre is a free agent and the Twins would be wise to make one last-ditch attempt to land the third baseman.
Beltre makes even more sense now that he won’t cost the club any prospects in a trade or an outrageous extension to get him to waive a no-trade clause.
To that same effect, he is also a Type B free agent so he wouldn’t cost the Twins a draft pick if the Mariners were to offer him arbitration.
Additionally, coming off a season in which he missed 50 games and hit just .265/.304/.379 with just eight home runs and 44 RBIs, his value is lower than ever.
Thus potentially making him affordable for the Twins as he figures to command much less than the $12 million he made in 2009.
He does have some lingering health concerns, after missing time in recent seasons with injuries to his shoulders, thumb, wrist, hamstring, and—worst of all—his right testicle.
In that time, Beltre underwent two shoulder surgeries and ligament replacement surgery on his left thumb.
Despite being banged up for the past few years, this season marked the first time since 2001 that he failed to play at least 140 games.
Making Beltre even more attractive to the Twins is his age.
Although he has seemingly been in the league forever, Beltre won’t turn 31 until April and, if healthy, could have a nice bounce back year hitting in a lineup that offers much more protection than he’s had in his time with Seattle.
For his part, Beltre would provide the Twins with some much needed right-handed pop to balance out the lefty-heavy heart of the lineup.
Although he’ll certainly never repeat the monster 2004 campaign that earned him his last deal, he can be counted on for a solid .270/.325/.453 line with 20-25 home runs, 80-90 RBIs, and even 10-15 stolen bases.
The prospect of adding Beltre to the lineup is made even more interesting when one accounts for the fact that his numbers have largely been suppressed by playing the majority of his game at Safeco Field for the past five years.
Safeco is notoriously tough on right-handed sluggers like Beltre.
Outside of Safeco, one could expect Beltre to thrive as he's a career .287/.338/.488 hitter in road games as opposed to the .253/.311/.416 career line he’s posted at home.
Perhaps more important than his offensive contributions is his stellar defense.
Beltre is a two-time Gold Glove winner and consistently ranks among the best third basemen in the game.
In essence, he is a healthier version of Joe Crede; decent pop, great glove, and a penchant for swinging at bad pitches. His health, as opposed to Crede’s, makes him the smarter investment going forward.
Many reports are indicating that Twins’ management isn’t sold on the idea of handing top-prospect Danny Valencia the starting third base job out of Spring Training, if at all, next season.
It is believe by many in the organization that Valencia still needs more time in Triple-A Rochester to mature as a player and a person and to improve his defense at the hot corner.
With that in mind, the Twins may be looking for more than a short-term solution at third base.
It is entirely possible that Beltre—in a market flooded with third basemen—could settle for a two-year deal with an option, thus making him the perfect choice for the Twins.
It is, however, entirely possible that, despite last season’s injuries and poor production, Beltre may still be out of the Twins' price range.
One thing is certain, Beltre is the exact type of player the Twins should be looking for at third base.
If his market is slow to develop the Twins must try, try again.