Why Carlos Beltran Will Get Traded

MetsToday commenter “hart” had this to say in regard to the Carlos Beltran situation:

Surprised how many people seem to be buying into the possibility that Alderson might keep Beltran for a playoff push, whereas it seems pretty clear to me that it’s pure posturing on his part. Ideally, he’ll play several suitors off against each other and enhance what we get in return. I hope it gets done soon, rather than risk some sort of setback.

I have to agree. Sandy Alderson held a press conference to assure everyone that the K-Rod trade did not signify a “fire sale” and did not have anything to do with Carlos Beltran’s status for two reasons: first, to placate the diehard fans who really believe the Mets have a shot at a postseason spot; and second, to keep what little leverage he has in any trade talks. Think about it: if Alderson comes out and says, “hey, this is the beginning of the end, we’re rebuilding, and we’re going to trade off everyone we can”, then he puts himself into a poor bargaining position with other GMs. He has to get the most he can for Beltran, Chris Capuano, Jason Isringhausen, et al, and in order to do that, he has to create the illusion that the Mets still consider themselves contenders and are in no rush to make any deals. At the same time, he’s publicly keeping the door open to possible deals, so that other teams will call him, rather than the other way around.

The reality of the Beltran situation is very similar to that of K-Rod: Sandy Alderson really has to trade him. There’s very little benefit in keeping Beltran around through the end of the season, considering that a) the Mets are unlikely to have the money to re-sign him – especially if he remains healthy and as productive as he’s been thus far; b) when he leaves via free agency, the Mets will get nothing in return because of the clause in his contract that prevents them from offering arbitration; c) he doesn’t fit into the long-term rebuilding plan that seems to be in process; and d) why would he want to stay, when he still doesn’t have a ring? At his age, one would surmise that Beltran will look to sign with a definite contender with the hopes of being part of a championship club.

Even if the Mets go on a 10-game winning streak, it’s not going to convince me that they are “contenders”. They’ll be interesting, but at the end of the day, they’re still likely to be too far behind in the standings, and further, they can’t compete against the Phillies, Braves, Giants, and other top teams in a short series. The prudent thing to do is jettison Beltran now, while he has value, while he appears to be healthy, and while teams believe there are enough games left that Beltran can impact, and therefore be more willing to part with a top prospect to get him.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. RealityChuck July 15, 2011 at 7:47 am
    If they can’t get value for him, why trade him? What team is going to give up a top talent for a rental? If you’re not going to get someone who can play on the major league roster next year, how is that any different from letting him go for nothing? And what team is willing to part with a MLB ready prospect for nothing?
    • CatchDog July 15, 2011 at 8:48 am
      Last season, the Twinkies traded one of their top rated prospects; Wilson Ramos to the Nats for Matt Capps. The same Matt Capps who was released by the Pirates over the previous winter.

      It happens, especially if the receiving team feels that player fits next season. The romance begins immediately.

      • Joe Janish July 15, 2011 at 10:06 am
        To add to CatchDog and Gary’s examples of “rentals” that teams acquired in return for decent prospects or usable MLBers (at the time):

        Octavio Dotel
        Kerry Wood
        Lance Berkman
        Jorge Cantu
        Cristian Guzman
        Xavier Nady
        Jason Bay
        Manny Ramirez
        CC Sabathia
        Cliff Lee
        Mark Teixeira
        Pudge Rodriguez
        Ken Griffey Jr.
        Orlando Cabrera
        Nick Johnson
        Adam LaRoche

        the list goes on and on ….

  2. gary s. July 15, 2011 at 8:02 am
    many teams have traded top prospects for a beltran type rental in the hopes of going deep in the playoffs.Does carlos gonzalez of the rockies sound familiar?He was traded for matt holiday to the a’s and he is one of the best of’s in mlb.I’m not saying that’s what will happen when beltran is moved, but he is definitely not coming back to the mets, so why not see if we can get a top prospect
  3. izzy July 15, 2011 at 8:11 am
    It is amazing that so many Met fans can no longer comprehend the concept of trying to win. They have become so consumed with the horrid management of the mets and the Wilpons they have forogtten the goal os to make the post season, not to save the owner. Of course this owner is too stupid to realize that winning fills the park and makes more money than he saves from his salary dumps and too many Met fans have bought into his bad philosophy. Temas want Betran becaus ethey want full parks and lots of money coming in. They aren’t worried that some kid migt be good in 2015.
  4. NormE July 15, 2011 at 8:17 am
    Yes, there are similarities to the K-Rod situation, but there is a difference. The “value” in the K-Rod deal was the fact that the Mets got rid of the 17.5 million monkey on their back.
    They shouldn’t trade Beltran for two PTBNLs unless they are top tier prospects. The “value” in exchange for Beltran has to
    be more just saving money. The “value” is live bodies.
  5. Mets Fan in Obamastan July 15, 2011 at 8:22 am
    Excellent analysis. With financial woes, it only makes sense to play “moneyball” which is why Sandy was hired,
  6. Steve S. July 15, 2011 at 8:49 am
    Even without the Madoff/money problems, the Mets should be dealing Beltran, but only with a top prospect included in the trade. He’s wanted by more than one team; so let the bidding begin…..
  7. Walnutz15 July 15, 2011 at 9:08 am
    I think that the biggest hurdle in all of this, that makes “top prospects” [plural] (or even a Madison Bumgarner; who’s been slotted into a rotation, and is pitching already at the Major League-level — another guy that Met fans for some reason love to throw into any Beltran-trade conversations) a bit harder to come by this time around – is dealing with any NL team.

    Beltran’s dealt within the NL, and you’re looking at a strict “rental” situation – where he’ll very likely up and leave as soon as the last out is recorded — in favor of an AL team during the winter (IMHO).

    In 2004, the Royals got themselves a John Buck and Mark Teahen (along with Mike Wood) from the ‘stros. However, I think Houston figured they’d be in a GREAT position to re-sign Beltran during the winter; given their position in the standings, and need in the outfield – thrown along with him entering into the prime of his career.

    I think that while you might grab a solid prospect in exchange for Beltran’s services during a stretch run – you also have to be wary about giving up too much.

    He’s not likely to re-sign with an NL team (really can’t see him holding up without the option to DH) – and would probably be looking for a nice multi-year deal to cap off the last of his “big-buck” contracts, before grabbing 1-year deals to close out his career as a DH.

    As well as he’s played this season, all it takes is to start hearing of some aches and pains…we’ve seen it too many times to rule it out — and it’s not like he’s 25 years old anymore.

    The Mets will trade Carlos Beltran, no doubt about it. It’s just a matter of when – and hopefully, he keeps himself healthy over these next 2 weeks….in order to allow us to grab max value.

    ……..there’s always the hope that someone does step up to the plate – and offers a “too good to be true” package at this stage of Beltran’s career. I don’t see it matching some people’s expectations, though.

    • Dewbird July 15, 2011 at 3:04 pm
      As a Braves fan I could see a Nate McLouth/Mike Minor trade for Beltran work out well for both teams. We have a bunch of average outfielders and excellent pitching depth. Both would start for you guys. We need Beltran’s pop, even if it were for just one year.
  8. Mike July 15, 2011 at 10:33 am
    Am I the only one who realizes that Alderson has the best piece available in a bare market? He’s the only one with a legit all-star on the table who can switch hit (well) and can play a solid outfield while still able to steal a few bases? How exactly does he not have leverage Joe? Just because teams know he is available, and that he must be traded to get value, doesn’t mean that teams wont fight over him. Right now Alderson is trying to drive up price by starting to take away supply. It is GM 101. Don’t just say you are definitely going to move him when you can toy with the market a bit. Why are we criticizing Alderson for doing his job the right way? This is what I mean when I talk about NYers never giving the Mets a break. Let Sandy do his job and shut up about it.
  9. Walnutz15 July 15, 2011 at 10:42 am
    I don’t think it takes much insight to realize that Beltran’s probably the most attractive rental on the market.

    The good thing about what Alderson’s done – and it’s the philosophy that most of us took from the get-go with Beltran — is waiting it out, to drum up more interest as teams either: get themselves into contention; or fall further out and feel “desperate” for help.

    The risk with this is Beltran, himself.

    Not that he won’t produce – because I feel that teams know what to expect by now; best or worse case…………but that he’ll actually stay healthy leading up to the deadline.

    Not a major, paralyzing concern, but one you always have in the back of your mind.

    I hope they can maximize the return……but it’s pretty clear to me that trading Beltran is the best route to go right now.

    Keeping him for no other reason but to ensure gates the rest of the way would smack of the old Met regime. This is a clear-cut situation of getting something in exchange before he walks for good. He won’t be a Met past this season.

  10. gary s. July 15, 2011 at 3:26 pm
    Nutz, With one more multi year contract waiting out there for him, you don’t have to worry about Beltran staying “healthy”.I find it rather amazing that a guy who has been hurt on and off for seven years with the Mets, finds a way not to miss ANY games in his walk year with 2 bad knees.That is why i would never go more than 5 years with reyes.Walk years seem to have amaxing therapuetic powers on ballplayers.
    • CatchDog July 16, 2011 at 9:45 am

      Not sure how you interpret Beltran as a guy who “has been hurt on and off for seven years”. In his first 4 seasons, Tron averaged 150 games a year. And that includes that gruesome collision with Mike Cameron. His OPS+ over those years were 129, 150, 125 & 144.

      Yes, Carlos only played in 81 & 64 games in 09 & 10 but the guy’s been worth every penny, despite Met Doctors telling him to rub some dirt on the injuries and get back out on the field.

      According to Fangraphs, at Tron’s current rate of production, the value of his contract will be around 141 million dollars, in which the Mets paid 119. The Mets certainly got their money’s worth. In my opinion, Beltran has been the best free agent signing from a value and production standpoint the Mets have ever signed. Mike Piazza included.

      • Mike July 17, 2011 at 1:29 pm

        I couldnt agree with you more! Everyone talks how Reyes and Beltran are alway hurt, simply not true. Beltran says he wants to play with the mets and i would throw a contract out there to see if he is for real. He would be fine in RF for the next 3-5 years.

    • izzy July 17, 2011 at 9:31 am
      No risk no gain. Big contracts fail….Top prospects fail. Don’t do anything, you can’t fail … yet you can’t succeed either.
  11. marathonmet July 19, 2011 at 9:49 am
    I’m a little late with this question, but just in case, I’ll throw it in.

    Why doesn’t Beltran fit into the long term solution, understanding that long term translates into a new 3 year contract.

    Yes, an american league team sounds like the right choice because of the DH, and yes, this year any contender sounds good, so he can get a chance at a ring.

    But, for any ballplayer of the caliber of Beltran, to be able to stick around, and be a part of the mets winning it all in 2-3 years, sounds like a good reason to stay.

    • marathonmet July 19, 2011 at 6:49 pm
      A brief follow up to my question/comment is that, in the end, what really matters is what is the mets plan and does beltran fit in with that plan.

      With respect to a posible plan, I would think that trying to have a competitive team that can go all the way in a time frame of 2-3 years should at least be on the mind of the FO. If its possible or not, thats another issue.

      With respect to beltran fitting into the initial phase of that plan (the first 2 to 3 years), I would think that the question isn’t about beltrans talent (meaning that I believe that his talent is still enough to be a part of the first 2-3 years), but about his price and about his desire to stay in NY.

      Beltran publicly stated, obviously in accordance to correct public relations protocol, that he would like to stay in NY, so at least he doesn’t publicly want to leave (remember that cliff lee publicly stated that he wouldn’t go to the yankees).

      Therefore the question remaining is the money.

      My way of seeing this issue, is the same as with Jose Reyes, if a team in NY can’t afford to pay Reyes, or Beltran, then who can? Sure, I understand that the current situation, with maddoff, dropping attendance, the fact that MLB had to lend them 25 grand and that they have publicly stated that they want a payroll at about 120 million next year isn’t the best scenario.

      But Maddoff shouldn’t be an issue, because if the Wilpons lose the case, then they will have to sell the Mets, and it should be in their best interest for the Mets to have more value (meaning that a competitive team should give the franchise more value). Attendance is also part of having a competitive team on the field and I would think that the loan is a short term problem that shouldn’t derail them. Finally, the 120 payroll could have an effect depending on what beltran can make, and I would think that the market will not over price beltran, because all will fear how his health will hold up.

      Finally, with respect to beltran, does it make sense for him to stay? I insist, it could, if the mets present him a good plan. He could definately be a part of the next couple of years and If he were to stay around, and be a part of world series run, his status would rise and allow him to enter an elite circle of former mets stars. He would become a legend. Isn’t that what all stars aspire to become after they have achieved finantial success?

      So, in the end, why can’t we consider that beltran might continue to be a met?