Peter Gammons reports the Red Sox and Mets are discussing a possible trade for outfielder Carlos Beltran.
"The Red Sox are looking for an outfielder and ‘continue to talk to the Mets’ about Carlos Beltran, Peter Gammons said this afternoon on the MLB Network.
“The relationship between Beltran and the Mets is not great,” he said. “He’s not going to play in the outfield for 150 games, and there are still hard feelings between ownership and Scott Boras because of the operation Beltran had a year ago.”
Gammons believes the Mets would like to move Beltran and roughly $10 million to help free up money that can be used to acquire pitching.
According to Gammons, the Mets expressed interest in Red Sox SS Marco Scutaro and RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka, but, he says, “I don’t think the Red Sox will do that.”
It seems like so long ago that Carlos Beltran was a productive player. That's the funny thing about perception, though. Frequently it's incorrect. In 2008 (at age-31), Beltran put up a 7.1 WAR season, which was worthy of MVP consideration. In 2009, Beltran got hurt and only played 81 games. That said, he still managed to put up 3.1 WAR. Had he kept it up that pace, it would have been eighth season with at least 5 WAR in nine years.
In 2010, Beltran straight up struggled, putting up the third lowest wOBA (.332) of his career. Did he struggle in part due to him missing the first three months of the season? Absolutely. It's not uncommon for a player to struggle after missing so much time. That said, at 33 years old, I have to believe some of his struggles was due to age-related regression. As good as Beltran has been, he's going to decline eventually.* Considering his age, it makes sense to believe that he's finally started.
* Why isn't Beltran discussed as a serious potential Hall of Fame candidate? He hits for power, gets on base, runs the bases very well, and plays excellent defense at a premium defensive position. He's already put up 63.4 WAR meaning he's already provided more value than several Hall of Famers--see Jim Rice, Andre Dawson, and Orlando Cepeda, among others.
Still, with Beltran fully recovered, there's no reason to believe that he can't be a solid 4-5 win player in 2011. With the average value of a win on the free agent market skyrocketing to $5M/win, he'd more than outperform his $18.5M salary. Plus, the Mets are apparently willing to take on as much as $10M of his contract--and possibly take on the mercurial Dice-K--just to unload him. Essentially, the Red Sox would be paying Beltran $8.5M for 4 WAR. That's a pretty good deal.
I'm not a huge fan of the Sox having to give up Scutaro. Scutaro is cheap, productive, and doesn't have an obvious replacement. Prospect Jose Iglesias needs at least one more year of development in the minors, so the Sox would need to have a contingency trade in place to replace Scutaro. As I mentioned last month, the Twins might be interested in trading J.J. Hardy. Theo Epstein made a strong push to acquire Hardy from Milwaukee last winter, so it wouldn't be a surprise to see him take another stab at him this year. If they could swing a reasonable side deal for Hardy, while completing the Beltran (and $10M) for Dice-K and Scutaro trade, that would be a major coup for the Red Sox front office.
Still, it's really early in the trade talks, and all of this is just speculation. I'm skeptical that the Alderson/Riccardi/DePodesto team would be interested in trading Beltran for a 35 year old shortstop and an inconsistent starting pitcher. They're too smart to want this little in return for a player of his caliber. Perhaps, they know more about Beltrans health than is publicly available. Then again, maybe they're just trying to dump salary in an effort to become more flexible. It looks like we'll just have to let this play out.