Scouting The Trade Market: Carlos Beltran

Yankees sign Randy Flores to minor league deal
The Yankees season in three acts
(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

The trade deadline is still more than two months away, but you can be sure every team in the league has already started the process of scouting potential trade targets and what not. The Yankees waited until right before the deadline to bring in Kerry Wood, Lance Berkman, and Austin Kearns last season, but the year before they jumped on Eric Hinske in June, about a month before the July 31st deadline.

We’ll take a look at several players that may or may not be available come trading time between now and the deadline, starting today with Carlos Beltran. This series isn’t intended to give a definitive “yes” or “no” on a player, but instead we’ll just present some pros and cons to see if the pieces fit. Sometimes they will, other times they won’t. Let’s go backwards with this one, starting the cons before the pros…

The Cons

  • Beltran has missed a total of 145 games during the 2009 and 2010 seasons with knee issues, including what was initially reported as microfracture surgery.
  • He will earn $18.5M this season and also has a full no-trade clause. That works out to about $3.08M per month, in case you’re trying to figure out the proration.
  • Beltran happens to play for the Mets, and the Yankees and Mets don’t get together for trades very often. Certainly not for major players like Beltran, anyway. It’s been almost seven years since the Felix Heredia-Mike Stanton swap, the last time these two clubs made a deal.  The David Justice-Robin Ventura swap in December 2001 is the last trade between the Yankees and Mets that I would consider significant.

The Pros

  • Despite the knee injuries and concern about his ability to stay healthy, Beltran has done exactly that this season. He’s started 35 of the Mets’ 41 games in right field, including a stretch of 21 straight games. He played all nine of innings in both games of a double-header during at stretch as well as a 14-inning game later on.
  • We can’t rely on the advanced stats to measure his defense in right because it’s so early in the season (-2.3 UZR but +2 DRS), but my informal poll of Mets’ fans on Twitter says he’s been “surprisingly good.” Beltran was one of the best center field defenders in his prime, and I assume the instincts are still in place even if the foot speed is not. I guess the most important thing is that the knee issues haven’t turned him into Marcus Thames with the glove, he’s still playable in the outfield.
  • Beltran can still hit, sporting a .286/.381/.564 (.404 wOBA) batting line so far. Even if you remove that three homer game against the Rockies, he’d still be hitting .273/.373/.492 (.388 wOBA), which is right in line with his .282/.360/.495 (.371 wOBA) career line. ZiPS projects a .273/.362/.474 (.365 wOBA) performance from here on out, for what it’s worth.
  • He’s a switch hitter without much of a platoon split (.368 wOBA vs. RHP, .384 vs. LHP in his career) and has long been one of the very best baserunners in the game. Beltran hasn’t attempted to steal a base this year (understandable given the knee), but he still scores well in first-to-thirds, moving up on wild pitches, etc.

Even though the Yankees started the season with a pretty set lineup, it’s obvious how Beltran could help them. Nick Swisher isn’t hitting in right field, and even though most of us expect a rebound to come at some point, he’s shown in 2008 that a bounceback isn’t guaranteed over the course of a full-season. There’s also the DH spot that could be open for a myriad of reasons. Jorge Posada could continue to stink, the Yankees could decide Jesus Montero isn’t ready/Jesus Montero might stink/Jesus Montero might get traded. It’s not all that tough to see where the Yankees could use Beltran.

The Mets already have that $18.5M set aside for Beltran’s salary this year, and I’m sure they’d be willing to eat some of it to move him. The more they eat, the better the return, that’s usually how this process works. Since Beltran (and Scott Boras) offered his services to the Yankees at a discounted rate years ago as a free agent, I’m willing to bet the no-trade clause would be a non-issue. I’m not going to speculate on what it would take to acquire him, but I think last year’s Berkman trade is a halfway decent comparable. Beltran’s a better player this year than Berkman was last, so we’d have to adjust upward of course. That at least that puts us in the ballpark and not the parking lot though.

The injuries to David Wright and Ike Davis could either speed up or slow down the Beltran trade process, depending on your point of view. The Mets could hold onto him and try to hang around in the race (or at least until one of the other marquee names gets healthy), or Sandy Alderson could get a jump on everyone else and try to sell high on Beltran early in the season. Either way, he’d clearly help whatever team acquires him.

Yankees sign Randy Flores to minor league deal
The Yankees season in three acts
  • Steve H

    Beltran would be a very good fit as a DH and as insurance for the rest of the OF. Considering the Yankees payroll is lower than they expected heading into 2011, I’d love to see them take on the remainder of Beltran’s $$ and keep the prospect count low.

  • Matt :: Sec110

    I’d do it today.

    Considering the Mets are hemorrhaging money, I think he could be had for a relativly ‘small package’. Love that he’s a switch hitter, and his defense has been pretty good in right.

    I mean at a certain point, when is Swisher’s season lost? The sample size is starting to get pretty, big.

    • Matt :: Sec110

      also, I’m just about ready to cut ties with Jones. He’s old and fat, and sure he may hit a homer every so often, but that’s only against lefties.

      • Mike Axisa

        …sure he may hit a homer every so often, but that’s only against lefties.

        That’s exactly what he was brought in to do. Nothing more.

        • Fairweather Freddy

          Bet Justin Maxwell could do juzt as good a job, if not better

          • Steve H

            Considering how much AAA pitchers strike him out, I doubt he can match Andruw.

          • Mike Axisa

            Maybe, but there’s no reason to cut bait on Andruw after just 43 plate appearances.

            • Matt :: Sec110

              even if they traded for Beltran?

              • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

                You’re putting the cart before the horse. If Beltran is traded for, then yes, cutting Jones makes more sense.

                • Matt :: Sec110

                  oh, of course, I figured that was obvious.

                  • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

                    Well, Mike was replying to the “Justin Maxwell should be promoted to replace Andruw Jones” idea of Fairweather Freddy. It’s a tangential conversation that is separate from the one of “Should Andruw Jones’s presence stand in the way of the team pursuing Carlos Beltran?”

                    Mike wasn’t really addressing your initial comment there, I don’t think.

                    • Matt :: Sec110

                      true that…I see it now.

        • Matt :: Sec110

          but Beltran as a 4th OF/DH, perhaps starting RF is a better options…cut bait.

      • Rob Thomsen’s Chili Farts

        LOL at all the people who think that Jones is the problem on the team.

        • Matt :: Sec110

          not problem with the team, not sure anyone said that…I just think Beltran is a better option.

          • Clay Bellinger

            Of course he’s better than Jones, but is the cost for him worth the upgrade over Swish/Posada?

            • Matt :: Sec110

              At worst you’d platoon Beltran with Swish, and DH him.

              I think a bag of balls is an upgrade over Posada now.

              My ideal situation would be to bring up Montero as well.

              • Clay Bellinger

                That’s the thing…I’d rather them not start trading for another hitter without finding out if the solution is in-house already. They have to find out what they have in Montero first.

                • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

                  Meh, if the price is right, pull the trigger on Beltran and promote Montero anyway.

                  Adding two good hitters is twice as nice as adding one.

                  • Clay Bellinger

                    Yeah, I agree if the price is right, go for it as it can only help.

                    I still expect Swisher to turn things around though. If he hits, and Montero comes up and hits (or somehow Jorge has a Ortiz like turnaround), I’d rather not see them deal a good prospect for someone who won’t play everyday. I’m sure we’ll find out over the next 6 weeks or so though.

          • Ted Nelson

            He’s a better option than Jones, but Jones cost them only $2 mill. Beltran will cost them a ton of $ and/or prospects. If a deal that makes sense comes along, sure. Otherwise upgrading your 4th OF may not be worth the $ and/or prospects.

      • Ted Nelson

        “also, I’m just about ready to cut ties with Jones. He’s old and fat, and sure he may hit a homer every so often, but that’s only against lefties.”

        He’s had 9 PAs against righties… so it’s not like he’s gotten a chance to do anything against them.

    • Ted Nelson

      “I mean at a certain point, when is Swisher’s season lost? The sample size is starting to get pretty, big.”

      In 2008 he had his best month in June… his 2009 May was very comparable to this May… have some patience.

  • Clay Bellinger

    “The David Justice-Robin Ventura swap in December 2001 is the last trade between the Yankees and Mets that I would consider significant.”

    Armando Benitez?!!!

    • Mike Axisa

      I don’t really count a reliever as a significant trade, especially when two scrubby minor league relievers went the other way. Justice for Ventura was two legit everyday players.

      • Clay Bellinger

        I know I know. I’m JK. He didn’t stick around very long either before being flipped to the M’s.

  • Josh

    Mike, does Swisher’s $10.25 million option get picked up at season’s end? Seeing the way he’s playing right now, I don’t think they will pick it up. $10.25 million is a whole lotta cash for a guy who’s underachieving…

    • Mike Axisa

      I don’t see a better option on the free agent market. I’d bet $10.25M for a year on Swisher rebounding at age 31 over signing any of these guys:

    • Ted Nelson

      It’s one season that he’s underacheiving through a couple of months after two seasons in which it seems like he was definitely worth $10 mill to the Yankees… Not that this is 2008, but he did well in June and August of 2008. There’s a lot of time to get this season turned around to one extent or another.

      That’s not to say that the Yankees will keep Swisher around even through this season–I have no idea–but I would look at more than a couple of months in 2011 in making the judgement.

      • CMP

        It certainly would be rash to make a decision on Swisher’s option until after the season is over as there is still plenty of time for him to bounce back.

        That being said, if he doesn’t start producing and the Yankees can bring in a player like Beltran, I have no problem with him losing some playing time.

        • Ted Nelson

          I don’t have a problem with it either if he keeps struggling. Even if he doesn’t keep struggling Beltran might out-produce him.

          The option is about 2012, though, not 2011. Of course 2011 plays into your expectations for 2012, but as Mike points out this is only a 31 year old player in 2012… irreversible physical decline is unlikely. This is also a player who has had a poor season and followed it up with two strong seasons. 2011 is just one part of a bigger equation.

  • vin

    “or Sandy Alderson could get a jump on everyone else and try to sell high on Beltran early in the season. ”

    I do wonder if the seller gets a better return when dealing players in advance of the trade deadline. Has anyone studied this?

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      I wouldn’t be surprised if the difference between trading a guy in June or waiting to trade him the last day of July didn’t bring an appreciable difference in talent acquired. It’s probably a much smaller difference than conventional wisdom would claim it is.

      This is just me speculating, though, without doing said research.

  • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

    I’m not going to speculate on what it would take to acquire him, but I think last year’s Berkman trade is a halfway decent comparable. Beltran’s a better player this year than Berkman was last, so we’d have to adjust upward of course.

    Beltran’s also a bit less expendable for the Mets than Berkman was for the Astros, since the Mets haven’t acquired an in-house replacement for Beltran who is truly their OF of the future. The Astros had acquired Brett Wallace a few days before trading Berkman, and that made them a bit more motivated of a seller.

    For two months of Berkman, the Yankees surrendered a ready-for-the-majors quality (but not all-star potential) relief prospect and a low-A lottery ticket middle infielder. Berkman was owed 7.15M for those two months (plus a 2M buyout for his option year) and Houston paid 4M of that total 9.15M obligation.

    Say we trade for Beltran on June 30th and get three months of him instead of just the two we got of Berkman. (Eminently likely, as the Mets are in more of a financial bind than the Astros were, and the Mets new braintrust has more of a rebuilding mantra than the “NEVAR GIVE UP!” Drayton McClane Astros did.) Three months of Beltran is 9M.

    Maybe pick one of David Phelps, Adam Warren, or D.J. Mitchell (the near ML-ready pitcher) and somebody like Melky Mesa, Kelvin DeLeon, Abe Almonte, Anderson Feliz, Neil Medchill (a further-away non-elite position player) and we take on 5-6M of the 9M?

    • Mike Axisa

      Maybe pick one of David Phelps, Adam Warren, or D.J. Mitchell (the near ML-ready pitcher) and somebody like Melky Mesa, Kelvin DeLeon, Abe Almonte, Anderson Feliz, Neil Medchill (a further-away non-elite position player) and we take on 5-6M of the 9M?

      I think that’s reasonable.

      • Clay Bellinger

        If it’s June 30, Swish and/or Posada haven’t turned it around, and Montero hasn’t proven to be the answer, I’d think that this would be worth pursuing for sure.

      • CMP

        Why not take on the full 9 million and give them a lesser prospect?

        What the hell does $3-4 million mean to the Yankees anyway? They spend twice that much every year on an injured LOOGY.

    • Steve H

      Don’t know if the Mets would go for this, but I’d rather take some of the Cliff Lee/Pettitte money (the portion that didn’t go to Soriano) and eat as much money as possible to lessen the prospect load. I’d rather it be a true salary dump.

      • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

        Me too, but while the Mets would love to dump all 9M of Beltran’s money, I think Alderson is smart enough to know that paying 3-5M of that 9 is well worth getting a fringy prospect as opposed to a non-prospect. The Mets need money bad, but they also need talent, and it’s smarter to take a hit now moneywise to get a better haul prospectwise.

        I doubt offering to take on all of Beltran’s money in exchange for a nonprospect is a deal Alderson takes. JMHO.

        • Steve H

          You’re probably right, I just hate seeing Warren’s name in there. Even though he’ll probably end up going in a trade and may not be an AL East pitcher, I’m a fanboy.

          • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

            Yeah, I’d push for Phelps being the headliner, but I can see Alderson insisting on at least Warren. His upside is a little higher, and Beltran is a quality trade chip.

            Alderson also has to make sure he gets a fairly good deal from the Yankees if he trades Beltran cross-town and Beltran helps the Yankees win a title. That’s a psychic blow the fans will hate, unless the return is good, and the Mets need to legitimately worry about the stability of fan loyalty right now. That plays into it too (a little).

            • Steve H

              Yeah, the Yankee tax would certainly be alive and well in a crosstown trade for a coveted asset like Beltran.

              • CMP

                Disagree. Unless I’m mistaken, Beltran has a full no trade clause so he can make it a Yankee or no one situtation and it certainly will do the Mets no good to keep him for the entire season.

                • Steve H

                  In theory that makes sense, but pratically I don’t know that it always works. If it’s be traded somewhere else or stay and he really wants out, he’ll leave, similar to Berkman last year. The closer he gets to the deadline, the more willing he’d be to move. We also don’t know that he would only want to come to the Yankees. Also, see what the Bruins paid through the nose for Tomas Kaberle who said he would only waive his NTC to go to Boston.

                  • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

                    Yeah, the chances of Beltran actually saying “Yankees or Bust!” is pretty slim. I’m sure he’d waive his NTC to join the Red Sox, Angels, Rangers, A’s, Indians, Tigers, Phillies, Marlins, Cardinals, Giants, Rockies, etc. etc.

                    He wants a ring. We’re a good opportunity to get one, but far from his only opportunity to get one.

                    • CMP

                      Not long ago, Beltran was willing to leave a reported $19 million on the table to play for the Yankees instead of the Mets.

                      To me, that sounds like he wanted to play for the Yankees pretty badly.

                      Ultimately, though n one can answer this question except Beltran himself so it’s all just speculation.

                    • CMP

                      How did the reply button at the bottom of my other post get blacked out?

                    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

                      That situation (27 year old Carlos Beltran the free agent centerfielder in his prime deciding where he wants to spend the next 7 years of his life) isn’t really all that analogous to this one (34 year old Carlos Beltran the rightfielder in the twilight of his career deciding what playoff contender he’d be okay with his contracted employer sending him to to finish out the last 3 months of the season for).

                    • Steve H

                      But that was for a 6 year deal. He’s gone at the end of the season anyway, I don’t think after 5.5 years with the Mets it’ll be Yankees or bust for 3 months or so.

              • Ted Nelson

                I think the “Yankee tax” is a fallacy.

                • Steve H

                  I think it’s probably overused, but if the Mets had two packages offered they felt were identical, I bet they’d take the other teams offer.

                • JobaWockeeZ

                  I’d agree but there’s no way of knowing really.

                • CMP

                  Yeah I agree. That’s an invention of the Cashman apologist faction.

                  • V

                    I disagree.

                    See: Curt Schilling. Return, Brandon Lyon, Casey Fossum, Jorge De La Rosa. At the time, this was though to be a mediocre return (see:


                    Meanwhile, when discussing the trade with the Yankees, the Diamondbacks wanted Alfonso Soriano AND Nick Johnson. Really?

                    Alfonso Soriano+Nick Johnson >>>>>>> Fossum+Lyon+De La Rosa. At the time, AND in retrospect.

                    • V

                      Of course, the Yankees ended up sending Johnson for Vazquez and Soriano for ARod.

                    • CMP

                      I’m still not buying it. In the 90s, the Yankees never seemed to have a problem with trade “taxes” as seen in deals for Wettland, Tino, Cone, Clemens, Knoblauch, Justice, etc.

                      When exactly did this “Yankee surcharge” go into effect?

                      I think it’s just another conspiracy theory.

                    • Steve H

                      I don’t really believe in the Yankee Tax per se, but I do think for certain teams (Red Sox, Mets) that they would have to pay more for a certain player. Same thing if the Cubs and Cards or Dodgers and Giants were trading. It’s not a Yankee tax as much as a rivalry tax.

          • Reggie C.

            I’d wager sandy alderson wouldn’t turn down a shot at finishing the development of Adam Warren even if it meant eating 3 million. warren isn’t far from being ML ready.

    • king of fruitless hypotheticals

      how ’bout we pay $9MM? I’d rather they say thank you and be on their way.

    • Ted Nelson

      Thought I responded to this before, but I don’t see it now.

      Basically… I would say Beltran is a better player to date in 2011 then Berkman was in 2010 when the Yankees got him. Of course, Beltran could struggle between now and whenever a theoretical trade would happen. Berkman has negative defensive value, had negative value as a right-handed hitter in 2010 (wOBA below .240), and was at .356 wOBA overall for the Astros. Beltran is probably docked from the injury concerns, but he’s a solid defender who some team might even use in CF if they’re weak at that position, solid on both sides of the plate, and has a .404 wOBA so far this season.

  • mbonzo

    Beltran has shown favoritism towards the Yankees (he offered them a $19m discount from his Mets offer) and would probably be ecstatic to move to the Bronx if the Mets are out of the race.

    • pat

      Beltran has shown favoritism towards the Yankees (he offered them a $19m discount from his Mets offer) and would probably be ecstatic to move to the Bronx if when the Mets are out of the race.

      fixed it for you.

  • Sean

    Wonder what it would take to get Prince Fielder…?

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder
      • Sean

        Well with this lineup not producing and no real DH i figure if we could take him as Salary relief and throw a few B prospects maybe it would work. The Brewers know they cant afford to keep him. Just imagine him in the DH spot as a lefty in YS3

        • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

          The price for Fielder is going to be much higher than the price for Beltran.

          -The Brewers aren’t motivated sellers like the Mets are
          -They can sit on his salary all year long and contend in a weak NL Central
          -Fielder is entering his prime and a perennial middle-of-the-order bat, unlike Beltran who is older and injury prone
          -Fielder is a guy you can price as a sign-and-trade like the Padres did with Gonzalez
          -the Brewers always have the fallback of an arb offer and two draft picks in their pocket

          They’re different beasts. Beltran can probably be had for a B-/C+ prospect, an A-ball throw-in, and salary relief. Fielder’s not going anywhere without at least one Smoak/LaPorta/Wallace/Drabek type of prospect as a headliner.

          Fielder’s price probably starts at Betances. JMHO.

          • Tom Zig

            Don’t forget the Mark Attanasio factor.

          • Ted Nelson

            Agree. Totally different animals. Brewers seemed to go all in for this season… doubt they abandon that strategy while they’re in the race and if they do it’ll probably be for MLB ready guys since Marcum and Greinke are there in 2012 too. Assuming you’re acquiring him as more than a rental Fielder also ties up your DH spot, which could be Montero’s landing spot or A-Rod’s… so that might be counter to the Yankees’ strategy. Then again, I wouldn’t be too upset about a hitter like Fielder even if I disagreed with the move. Something like my opinion on Soriano.

            I will be interested to see if the Mets can squeeze more than a “B-/C+ prospect” out of Beltran, though. He’s a better player at this point than Berkman was in 2010. And whether Melancon was actually a B-/C+ prospect is even debatable. Entering the 2010 season he was still being talked about as the Yankees’ closer of the future. He had a few bad innings and was suddenly out-of-vogue.

  • ADam

    Pass, Pass, Pass

  • Ted Nelson

    Good analysis.

    I’m not sure how much of the Yankees and Mets not pulling off trades has to do with any cross-town rivalry. It’s possible, but at the same time what was the last major trade the Yankees made with the SF Giants, San Diego Padres, or Colorado Rockies? Hideki Irabu is the one that comes to mind for me (could definitely be forgetting some). Those teams are all in the NL West, yet the Yankees haven’t made big deals with them often in the recent past (that I recall anyway). The Mets are also a big market team who, like the Yankees, are more likely to be buying expensive players with prospects and $… like the Yankees.

  • Avi Atkin

    I wonder who are his other potential suitors are? I’m sure we’ll know more in a couple weeks, but I’ve heard the Red Sox thrown around prior to the Crawford signing.

  • mike

    Highly doubtful the Mets would dump a marque player to the Yanks to help in their pennant run for just money…the PR hit they would take would be horrible, especially if they fear Beltran would actually help the Yanks in the playoff push while the rest of the Mets ( who publically have never admitted $ issues with the team or payroll) are playing golf.

    The Mets are going to (rightfully, in their position) insist for some quality players from the Yanks so they can spin it to their fans…two middling players isnt worth the potential pain they will feel, even though their fan base never really warmed to Beltran

    • Ted Nelson

      Can the public perception of the Mets really get much lower? It’s so low right now that I think a Beltran move would go largely unnoticed. The Mets need to worry about winning games to turn around their image. If they think the Yankees offer is the offer that will most help them win games going forward, I think they will take it.

      If they are looking for salary relief, the Yankees are as much in a position to offer it as any team. Many small-market contenders will be out of the race for Beltran if money is what the Mets want… a team like the Red Sox who is paying it’s LF $20 mill and it’s 4th OF $8 mill might also be out of it… same for the Angels with Hunter and Wells. That’s two of the biggest spenders around right there. If they want prospects, they shouldn’t worry about what org they’re coming from… just get who they feel are the best prospects.

  • theyankeewarrior

    Our system is loaded with B+ prospects that will most likely not ever play a major role on our big league club. We also have a boatload of money in this year’s budget left over.

    Use these resources to this man.

    Add Beltran. Add Montero. Add a LOOGY. Add a true #2. Win a championship.

    • FernandoP

      Get Tim Byrdak from Mets. He’s solid versus lefties and should come cheap. I also like George Sherrill (but Braves are still in race) and Sean Burnett from Nats.

      • Mike

        Ahahaha, Tim Byrdak. Take it from this Mets fan, you don’t want him. The guy is sporting a 1.600 WHIP in the NL, he’d get eaten alive in your division. If I were in Alderson’s shoes, I’d keep Mike O’Connor for LOOGY and let you have Turdak for Ramiro Pena. He’s awful.

  • The209

    old, overpaid, injury-prone … he’d be right @ home.

  • BigTimeBartolo

    I want Beltrannn

  • bilgi bankas?

    Hello my friend! I want to say that this post is awesome, great written and come with approximately all significant infos. I?d like to look more posts like this .