Adrian Beltre, the soul of the best teams in Texas Rangers history, is retiring after eight years in Arlington.
"After careful consideration and many sleepless nights, I have made the decision to retire from what I've been doing my whole life, which is playing baseball, the game I love," Beltre said in a statement.
By the time Beltre signed with the Rangers in January 2011, he'd already played in parts of 13 big-league seasons for the Dodgers, Mariners and Red Sox. At the time, he was a consolation prize, signed to a six-year $96 million contract after the Rangers front office missed out on re-signing starting pitcher Cliff Lee, their primary target in the offseason following the team's first-ever World Series appearance.
Beltre ended up being one of the best free-agent signings in Dallas sports history.
During his time at the stadium now known as Globe Life Park, Beltre racked up 36.4 wins above replacement, according to Fangraphs. He played flawless, often spectacular, defense at third base and never stopped hitting. On July 30, Beltre doubled off Orioles starter Wade Miley for his 3,000th career hit, becoming the first player to reach that milestone in a Rangers uniform. He is a surefire Hall of Famer, thanks in large part to his time in Texas.
The Rangers have made the playoffs eight times since moving to Arlington in 1972, and Beltre manned third base for four of those teams.
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"I have thought about it a lot, and although I appreciate all the opportunities and everything that baseball has given me, it’s time to call it a career," Beltre said. "I have enjoyed the privilege of playing professional baseball since I was 15 years old. I have been blessed to have played 21 seasons at the highest level in Major League Baseball."
Perhaps more than anything, Beltre will be remembered for the joy and verve with which he played. He appealed his own check-swings, became a meme for how much he hated having his head touched and repeatedly picked up big hits after having swung so hard he went down to one knee. His camaraderie on the left side of the Rangers infield with Elvis Andrus made for many highlights, as well.
Adrian Beltre and Elvis Andrus are teammate goals https://t.co/CsrfvZGv4R— Baseball King™ (@BasebaIlKing) July 3, 2017
Beltre retires with the 16th most hits (3,166) and 30th most home runs (477) in Major League Baseball history. He became a superstar in 2004, the season in which he turned 25, when he hit 48 home runs and drove in 121 for the Dodgers and remained one of the best third basemen in baseball until he was nearly 40.