Rangers act early, exercise Adrian Beltre’s $16 million option for 2016

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Adrian Beltre’s contract includes a $16 million option for 2016 that would have vested if he reached 586 plate appearances this season, but the Rangers have decided to exercise the option early.

If healthy Beltre is a no-brainer to keep for $16 million, as he’s consistently been one of the elite third basemen in baseball for more than a decade and last season hit .324 with 19 homers and an .879 OPS in 148 games. Of course, there’s some “you never know what might happen” risk to exercising the option early, as there would be with any 36-year-old player.

As for why the Rangers did it now, general manager Jon Daniels indicated that he didn’t want the plate appearance count to become a distraction and, perhaps more importantly, there’s speculation that the two sides are working on a contract extension that would stretch beyond 2016.

Phillies owner John Middleton is in Las Vegas with Bryce Harper

Bryce Harper
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Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports that Phillies owner John Middleton flew to Las Vegas for a meeting with Bryce Harper on Friday. Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, it’s “more of a meet-and-greet than a sign-a-deal” affair, but as the club is still at the forefront of trade rumors involving the All-Star slugger, there remains a possibility (however slight) that something could be completed in the days to come.

Even now, the Phillies aren’t alone in the race to sign Harper, but recent rumors have helped whittle down the competition from five or more teams (Phillies, Nationals, White Sox, Giants, and Padres) to three strong contenders. The Giants are said to be interested in a lucrative short-term deal with the outfielder, while the Padres remain in the conversation despite inking Manny Machado to a mammoth 10-year, $300 million contract this week. It’s not yet clear just how far either team would go to outbid Philadelphia as talks with Harper intensify.

As for the Nationals and White Sox, the former officially bowed out earlier today, and MLB Network’s Jon Heyman adds that the latter won’t make a strong play for Harper as they feel the asking price and competing offers are “getting too high” for the 26-year-old’s services. If a mystery team is still in the mix, there’s been no word on their standing with Harper in the last month or so.