Adrian Beltre could go quickly

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Jon Heyman tweeted the following a few minutes ago:

adrian beltre market is very hot. 12 teams are interested. got a chance to be the first star to go off the board.

I don’t doubt that there is sharp interest in Beltre and that he might sign quickly. He’s easily the top infielder on the market, and his bat and defense are no doubt highly sought after, especially by a couple of clubs — the Red Sox and Angels — who are clearly willing to spend this winter.

Still: “12 teams are interested?”  That seems highly doubtful. Merely eyeballing rosters and payrolls, I see perhaps 12 or 13 total teams who aren’t settled at third base next season. Of those 12 or 13 teams, I see maybe four or five — including the Red Sox, White Sox, Angels and Giants — who might give Beltre the long term contract he’s looking for.  Among the others are poor sisters like the Marlins and Padres, or teams that have other long term priorities than third base, like the Cardinals. The notion that every single team who has a vacancy at third base is interested in Beltre is either wrong, or else the meaning of the world “interest” has gotten a lot looser than it used to be.

Small point, I guess, but it’s just another reminder that you have to impose some critical thinking on most of the rumors and buzz you hear this time of the year.

Shohei Ohtani agrees to $30 million deal for 2023 with Angels

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Shohei Ohtani agreed to a $30 million deal with the Los Angeles Angels for the 2023 season in the two-way superstar’s final year of arbitration eligibility before free agency.

The Angels announced the deal, avoiding a potentially complicated arbitration case with the 2021 AL MVP.

Ohtani’s deal is fully guaranteed, with no other provisions. The contract is the largest ever given to an arbitration-eligible player, surpassing the $27 million given to Mookie Betts by the Boston Red Sox in January 2020, a month before he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Ohtani is having another incredible season at the plate and on the mound for the Angels, regularly accomplishing feats that haven’t occurred in the major leagues since Babe Ruth’s heyday. He is a strong contender for the AL MVP award again alongside the Yankees’ Aaron Judge, who has tied the AL home run record and is closing in on the batting Triple Crown.

Ohtani is batting .276 with 34 homers, 94 RBIs and a .888 OPS as the Halos’ designated hitter. He is 15-8 with a 2.35 ERA and 213 strikeouts as their ace on the mound, and opponents are batting only .207 against him.

The 28-year-old Ohtani still will be a free agent after the 2023 season, and his future could be tied to the immediate fortunes of the Angels, who will complete their seventh consecutive losing season next week. The Angels didn’t trade Ohtani at the deadline despite being out of the playoff race again, and Ohtani is wildly popular among the club’s fans.

Ohtani repeatedly has said winning will be an important factor in choosing his home beyond 2023, and Angels owner Arte Moreno is currently exploring a sale of the team.

Moreno’s leadership has been widely criticized during the Angels’ mostly miserable run of play since 2009, and a fresh start with deep-pocketed new owners could be the best chance to persuade Ohtani to stay with the franchise he joined in 2018 from Japan. Ohtani immediately won the AL Rookie of the Year award, and he rounded into unique form last season after recovering fully from Tommy John surgery.