Beltre, on the other hand, was offered arbitration. There have been reports linking him to the Phillies and Red Sox. He definitely is a player other clubs are interested in. So, popular thinking is that Beltre will decline arbitration, and get a long-term deal elsewhere.
However, consider Beltre's position. He is coming off an injury-plagued year, that both impacted his playing time and offensive performance. At 30 years old, he is looking at one more lucrative multi-year contract. If he declines arbitration, he gets that deal this off-season.
What if Beltre accepts the arbitration? He will likely get around $12 million in 2010, and likely be healthier and more productive. Also, there is a reasonable chance that teams will be willing to spend more money next year, since teams are concerned right now about the current economic slump.
I think a 31-year-old Beltre, coming off an average season by Beltre standards, can demand a better contract than a 30-year-old Beltre coming off arguably the worst year of his career. Unless Beltre can secure something close to $12 million annually for 4-5 years, I think he will earn more money, both short and long term, if he accepts the M's arbitration.
With that said, the security that comes with a long-term deal, and desire to play for a franchise in better position to win it all in the next few years, are good reasons for Beltre to decline arbitration. Are they good enough to leave some money on the table though? We'll find out by Monday.