ARLINGTON -- The Rangers' big free-agent purchase of the offseason is all but officially done. Adrian Beltre is ready to take over for Michael Young as the Rangers' third baseman. According to industry sources, the negotiations have reached a point where Beltre arrived in Texas on Tuesday to have his required physical. His agent, Scott Boras, planned to fly to Texas on Tuesday night in preparation to close the deal and hold a news conference. All that is left is for Beltre to complete his physical, and that should complete an agreement on a six-year, $96 million contract, the second largest in Rangers history. An announcement is expected on Wednesday.
The Rangers and Boras have worked out the framework of the contract after extensive negotiations over the past two days. The final hurdles were some additional clauses and the overall language of the contract. That is all but wrapped up. The contract is also expected to have a clause that will allow the Rangers to void the last year of the deal if Beltre fails to reach a certain number of plate appearances in the fourth and/or fifth years of the contract. The Rangers negotiated a similar clause in Kevin Millwood's contract five years ago. But this will be the largest single free-agent contract handed out by the Rangers since they signed Alex Rodriguez to a 10-year, $252 million deal 10 years ago. The Rangers are willing to make a significant commitment to the 31-year-old third baseman, who has won two Gold Gloves and is coming off one of his best offensive seasons. One hurdle in the situation was cleared when Young told the Rangers he would be willing to move to designated hitter and a "super utility" role if the club was able to sign Beltre. Young has been the Rangers' starting third baseman for the past two years, but the club views Beltre as a significant upgrade defensively for a pitching staff that adheres to a philosophy of "pitching to contact" and making opponents put the ball in play. Rangers pitchers had the third-highest percentage of ground balls in the American League last season, which reinforces the premium they need to place on infield defense. Beltre batted .321 with 28 home runs and 102 RBIs for the Red Sox in 2010. He had a .365 on-base percentage and a .553 slugging percentage, which was his second best in both categories for his 12-year career. He and Young tied with 19 errors, the most by AL third basemen. But Beltre had the second-highest range factor of any third baseman and was second in double plays. He won a Gold Glove at third base while with the Mariners in 2007-08. Signing Beltre will most likely drop the Rangers out of the running to re-sign free-agent designated hitter Vladimir Guerrero. The Angels are the other team that had been closely linked as far as interest in Beltre.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.