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.

Two of 10 players accept $17.8 million qualifying offers

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First baseman José Abreu and starter Jake Odorizzi have accepted their $17.8 million qualifying offers from the White Sox and Twins, respectively, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports. Reliever Will Smith signed a three-year contract with the Braves ahead of Thursday’s 5 PM ET deadline to accept or reject the qualifying offer.

The remaining seven players — Gerrit Cole, Anthony Rendon, Stephen Strasburg, Zack Wheeler, Madison Bumgarner, Josh Donaldson, and Marcell Ozuna — have rejected their qualifying offers, per Passan. They are officially free agents and will have draft pick compensation attached to them, a potential deterrent for some interested teams.

The QO is unlikely to materially affect the fates of Cole, Rendon, and Strasburg, but it could limit the markets for the other four players. Reliever Craig Kimbrel and starter Dallas Keuchel both had draft pick compensation attached to them after the 2018 season and didn’t end up signing until June. It seems unlikely that Wheeler, Bumgarner, Donaldson, and Ozuna would have to wait until June next year to sign but it may take a while for their markets to develop.