Heath Bell, Carlos Pena and Jim Thome all go on trade waivers

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From FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal comes the news that the Padres’ Heath Bell, the Cubs’ Carlos Pena and the Twins’ Jim Thome and Jason Kubel were all placed on trade waivers Monday.

They’ll all be on waivers — but still eligible to play — through Wednesday.  If they clear waivers, they can be dealt at any point over the rest of the season, though to be eligible for the postseason, they’d have to be on their new rosters prior to Sept. 1.

Anyone not clearing waivers can either be pulled back or traded to the team with the highest priority that claims him.

Bell, Thome and Kubel are almost certain to get claimed on waivers.  Even a non-contender might try to pick up Bell or Kubel, simply for the fact that it’d be worth taking on about $1 million in salary in an effort to get back draft-pick compensation this winter.  All four players are going to become free agents after the season.

Since Pena makes the most money of the bunch and there isn’t a whole lot of need at first base among contenders, he might slip through waivers.

The Indians would be the obvious choice to grab Thome, especially after Travis Hafner got hurt Sunday.  Besides the White Sox, the Indians have the worst record of any AL contender.  Since these are trade waivers, leaguemates have priority for putting in claims.  Thome, though, does have no-trade protection and could block either a deal or a waiver claim.

Bell appears highly unlikely to be traded.  Any NL team, from the Astros and Cubs on up, could put in a claim just with the idea that he’d be worth it for the draft picks, and the Padres value those draft picks pretty highly themselves.

Adrián Beltré is a slam dunk Hall of Famer

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Rangers third baseman Adrián Beltré officially announced his retirement on Tuesday, ending months of speculation about his future. The 39-year-old put together one of the greatest careers we have ever seen, spending time with the Dodgers, Mariners, Red Sox, and Rangers across 21 seasons.

Beltré will be eligible for the Hall of Fame five years from now. Given how much more analytically-literate the electorate has become in recent years, Beltré will very likely get the requisite 75 percent of the vote to earn enshrinement in Cooperstown. In a just world, he would get 100 percent of the vote, but no player has ever gone into the Hall of Fame unanimously.

Beltré retires having hit .286/.339/.480 with 477 home runs, 1,707 RBI, 1,524 runs scored, and 121 stolen bases in 12,130 plate appearances. Beltré hit for the cycle three times: in 2008 with the Mariners, and in 2012 and 2015 with the Rangers. He won four Silver Sluggers and made the All-Star team four times, both of which seem criminally low. He also won five Gold Gloves and two Platinum Gloves. For the bulk of his career, he was arguably the best defensive third baseman if not just in his league then in all of baseball. Injuries slowed Beltré in his 30’s, particularly in the last two seasons, but despite that, he showed when he was healthy that he could still hang with the young guns in his old age. No one would have been surprised if he hung around for one more season. Despite health issues, Beltré still hit around the league average with above-average defense.

Among Hall of Famers who played at least 50 percent of their career games at third base, Beltré’s career 95.7 WAR ranks behind only Mike Schmidt (106.8) and Eddie Mathews (96.6), per Baseball Reference. He’s ahead of Wade Boggs (91.4), George Brett (88.7), and Chipper Jones (85.2). Those six are the only third basemen in the 80’s when it comes to WAR.

As Jon Morosi points out, Beltré is the only third baseman in baseball history with 3,000-plus hits and 400-plus home runs. Individually, the 3,000-hit club boasts only 32 members while the 400-homer club has 55 members. Beltré’s 3,166 hits and 477 homes rank 16th and 30th, respectively.

Beltré’s numbers are absurdly good, but beyond that, he was a character. He took the game quite seriously, but he was still able to have fun. He became one of the most .gif-able players in the game. Beltré didn’t like his head being touched, so when he approached or went through the dugout collecting high-fives after hitting home runs, his teammates would oftentimes playfully pat him or rub his head. Beltré would pretend to go after them in revenge.

Beltré once borrowed groundskeeping equipment in order to avoid Gatorade baths.

Beltré wasn’t afraid to drop to one knee to hit a homer, either.

Beltré played games with his opponents after successfully swiping a base.

Beltré got into standoffs with opposing players, further proving he’s anything but an easy out.

Beltré made relevant cultural references.

Beltré once trolled the umpire, who asked him to get back into the on-deck circle, by moving the on-deck circle.

Happy trails to not only one of the best players of his generation, but to one of the most entertaining as well. Baseball will be poorer without Adrián Beltré. His Hall of Fame induction ceremony should be tremendous, though.