12/08/09 12:44 AM EST
Beltre declines arbitration offer
Third baseman's decision might clear up Mariners' plans
By Doug Miller / MLB.com
The third baseman, a Type B free agent, will net the Mariners a supplementary sandwich pick between the first and second rounds of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft if Beltre decides to sign with another team, which is expected.
Beltre could decide to sign with the Mariners again, although that seems unlikely considering his reported desire to sign a multiyear deal and to play in a park friendlier toward right-handed hitters than Safeco Field -- not to mention that the Mariners are slated to introduce newly acquired infielder-outfielder Chone Figgins, who would start at the hot corner if Beltre departs, on Tuesday.
If it is the end of Beltre's Seattle stint, he will be remembered for stellar defense (Gold Gloves in 2007 and 2008), decent overall offense despite not living up to the monstrous offensive numbers he compiled in 2004, his last year in Los Angeles before signing a five-year contract with the Mariners, and toughness in playing through multiple injuries.
Beltre, 30, hit .265 with 27 doubles and eight home runs in 111 games in 2009, missing time because of a pair of trips to the disabled list for left shoulder surgery and a contused testicle. In five seasons with the Mariners, Beltre hit 103 home runs and drove in 396 runs, both second-most by a third baseman in club history (Jim Presley leads both categories).
But now that Beltre has made his decision, the Mariners can continue with the rest of their plans in shaping their 2010 roster, and if Beltre leaves, they'll have at least $12 million more to work with from the salary they won't have to pay him next year.
Figgins is now set to play third, but Seattle is still seeking a No. 2 or No. 3 starter or both; a left fielder, preferably with some power; a first baseman if Russell Branyan isn't re-signed; and a right-handed bat who could perform some designated hitter duties.
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.