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Angels cautious in pursuit of Beltre

Angels cautious in pursuit of Beltre

ANAHEIM -- The Angels are probably the team most interested in signing free-agent third baseman Adrian Beltre, but they aren't interested in bidding against themselves to get him.

A baseball source insisted that the Angels still want to sign Beltre, despite conflicting Internet reports and a story by the Los Angeles Times that the club had withdrawn its offer in what was portrayed as negotiation posturing.

With the Yankees and Red Sox not in the picture, the only other club known to be interested in Beltre is Texas. But the Rangers are not believed to be willing to approach the five-year, $70 million offer that the Angels reportedly made to Beltre earlier this month. If that offer is accurate, the Angels would pay Beltre $14 million annually.

Beltre is believed to be seeking, and can make a case for, a salary of $18 million annually, equaling the average annual value of the seven-year deal Beltre's agent, Scott Boras, negotiated with the Nationals for Jayson Werth. Beltre's offensive production in 2010 surpassed Werth's, and his defense is at least as good, if not better.

In an interview with the Times last weekend, owner Arte Moreno said the club made a "significant" offer to Beltre, but he added that the offer would not be increased. The Angels withdrew an offer two years ago for Mark Teixeira, another Boras client, but that time, the Halos completely exited negotiations for the first baseman.

Beltre, 31, hit .321 with 28 home runs, 49 doubles and 102 RBIs for the Boston Red Sox last season. Werth hit .296 with 27 homers and 85 RBIs. The Angels want Beltre after missing out on outfielder Carl Crawford, who signed with Boston.

Beltre led the American League in doubles with 49 and produced 326 total bases -- 60 more than the Angels' leader, Torii Hunter. Beltre also had more homers and RBIs than any of the Angels, and he played his customary brilliant defense.

The Rays' Evan Longoria was the AL's All-Star starter at third base, but Beltre trumped him in almost every major offensive category. Beltre earned his second AL Silver Slugger Award to go with his two Rawlings Gold Gloves. He was ninth in the AL MVP balloting.

Beltre finished fourth in the league batting race at .321 and was fifth in slugging at .553. His offense was not a product of Fenway Park's inviting dimensions. Fifteen of his 28 homers came on the road, where Beltre has 26 more career homers than in his home parks of Dodger Stadium, Safeco Field and Fenway. His .327 road average was the third highest in the AL.

With runners in scoring position, one of the Angels' major deficiencies in 2010, Beltre batted .338 -- tied for seventh in the league.

According to the computations of stats guru Bill James, Beltre has saved more runs (55) at third over the past three seasons than any peers. Only Phillies second baseman Chase Utley, with 60, has saved more runs among all position players.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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{"content":["hot_stove" ] }