The career of Adrian Beltre — which spanned 21 seasons, parts of three decades, four teams and 3,166 hits — ended officially on Tuesday when he announced his retirement. His journey contained multitudes: He was a teenage call-up by the Dodgers in 1998, a budding superstar in 2004, a stadium-suppressed disappointment for half a decade in Seattle, a viral sensation and franchise pillar in Texas.
In six years, when Beltre will be eligible for induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame, his career will be concluded with a bust in Cooperstown.
Beltre spent the first seven years of his career with the Dodgers, but he finished with eight seasons in Texas. In 2018, at age 39, he remained a useful contributor, hitting 15 home runs with a .763 on-base plus slugging percentage.
“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. “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.”
His résumé for induction into the Hall of Fame is close to impeccable, blending traditional accomplishments with advanced statistics. He became the 31st member of the 3,000-hit club last summer. He swatted 477 home runs. His defense at third base garnered him five Gold Glove awards. His skill with the bat netted him four Silver Slugger awards.
Beltre hovered beneath the radar during his tenure with the Mariners, with his power muffled by the environment at Safeco Field. He still burnished his reputation as a defensive wunderkind, and emerged with dynamic offensive seasons in Boston and Texas later in his career. His combination of power and glove work enhanced his all-around value.
Beltre finished his career with 95.7 wins above replacement, according to Baseball-Reference. Chipper Jones, a first-ballot Hall of Fame third baseman inducted earlier this summer, finished with 85.2 WAR. Wade Boggs had 91.4 WAR, and George Brett had 88.7.
Although he has not played for the Dodgers since 2004, Beltre has ties with the area. He still lives outside Los Angeles. He retained gratitude for Tom Lasorda, who stumped for Beltre’s promotion from double-A in 1998, and teammates like Shawn Green and Alex Cora.
The affection runs both ways. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, who played with Beltre in the 2000s, described him as one of his all-time favorite teammates. Jim Tracy, who managed Beltre from 2001 to 2004, said, “I absolutely love this man” when asked about Beltre earlier this summer.
A five-year, $64-million dollar offer lured Beltre to Seattle after he hit 49 homers in 2004. His departure started a carousel at third base for the Dodgers, one that did not end until Justin Turner emerged in 2014. Beltre lamented leaving Los Angeles, despite the upward trajectory of his career.
“I wanted to stay there forever,” Beltre told The Times during an interview this summer. “But it didn’t happen. But I don’t regret any move that I’ve made my career. Everything happened for a reason.”