If the A’s indeed made an offer to free-agent third baseman Adrian Beltre – and no one has denied they have – it stands to reason the team will want an answer soon.
Thursday's the deadline for teams to offer contracts to players under their control. The A’s can “tender” third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff (and likely non-tender third baseman Edwin Encarnacion) even if they don't know where they stand with Beltre. Kouzmanoff, working on a non-guaranteed, one-year contract, would remain expendable.
Yet, even then, the A’s wouldn't want to continue waiting. As much as they like Beltre, they eventually would want to move onto other pursuits.
The team’s immediate goal is to sign free agent Lance Berkman, with whom club officials met Tuesday night. DH types such as Hideki Matsui, Vladimir Guerrero and maybe even Adam Dunn loom as possible alternatives if Berkman chooses another club.
The A’s reported offer to Beltre, according to Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes.com, was five years, $64 million – the same terms Beltre received when he joined the Mariners as a free agent six years ago.
Beltre’s agent, Scott Boras, is extremely unlikely to recommend that Beltre accept such an offer so early in the offseason. Beltre, 31, not only is coming off a terrific season with the Red Sox, but the game’s revenues also are higher than they were six years ago.
Still, a five-year, $64 million proposal would represent a major commitment for the A’s, a low-revenue team. They'd presumably want to redirect at least some of the Beltre money toward other areas even if they signed Berkman or another hitter.
Perhaps the A’s would pursue another offensive piece. Perhaps they'd make a renewed push for Japanese right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma, with whom they're negotiating exclusively. Perhaps they'd do both.
One thing seems certain: The A’s would not want Boras to use their offer to Beltre as a benchmark in the agent’s negotiations with other clubs.
If the A’s indeed made an offer, it would figure to come with an expiration date. And that expiration date would figure to be coming soon.