Third base for the Seattle Mariners is now divided into two distinctly separate issues – life with Adrian Beltre, and life after him.
In the last year of his contract, Beltre is a two-time Gold Glove winner and a solid offensive player whose work ethic has made him a clubhouse leader. He plays hurt, he plays hard and yes, extremely well.
For as long as he's under contract and able to stand, pencil Beltre in at third base. Just how long that will be remains to be seen. The Mariners say they're open to talking contract extension, but nothing has happened yet.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
And if, at the trading deadline in July, Beltre hasn't extended that contract and contending teams come calling – as they certainly will – Jack Zduriencik will listen.
Within the Seattle system, Matt Tuiasosopo is probably the closest young player, and he's improving. How good he'll be is an open question. Tuiasosopo has good hands, a strong arm and the ability to hit fastballs hard. Non fastballs? That's an issue.
On the likely 25-man roster, Mike Morse has played third base and might be a more viable option. His bat has impressed coaches, and his versatility may win him a job out of camp.
Ronnie Cedeno can play anywhere, including third base. In the first two weeks of camp, he's been as impressive an infielder as the team has, defensively.
What the Mariners do in July depends upon so many factors there's no real projection except this one – other teams already think of Beltre as someone they'll be looking for at the deadline.
If Beltre is dealt, life after AB may never quite be the same.