It is good to see Carlos Beltran finish the season hot. He’s had a strong September, but not strong enough to where teams will be lining up to take him off the Mets’ hands. It is way too late for that to happen.
What this month is about is giving Beltran, and perhaps the Mets, peace of mind heading into the offseason and looking ahead to 2011. Beltran’s relationship with the Mets is not good, but the team is virtually powerless in an attempt to deal him. Unless the Mets agree to pay a large portion of his $18.5 million salary, he’s a virtual lock to stay in New York for the final year of his contract.
Injuries have sapped Beltran’s production for much of the last two season, so do you really think there’s a team out there willing to pony up the prospects and dollars based on one good month? Hardly.
If the Mets do trade him, it will be at next summer’s July 31 trade deadline, and only if Beltran has a good first half. Even then, the balance of Beltran’s $18.5 million is a pretty steep price to pay for a rental. Besides, if Beltran is healthy and hitting at the time, his agent, Scott Boras will want him to test the free agent market during the winter of 2011.
Even the Beltran of three, four years ago would have been difficult to trade because of the salary and cost in prospects. If a team were willing to spend that kind of money, it would be in the free agent market where it wouldn’t have to surrender its minor leaguers.
In addition, and this is a fact often forgotten, if a team trades a free agent it has signed during the life of the contract, that player has the right to request a trade after the season. So, even three years ago when Beltran was healthy, a team wouldn’t trade for him unless it worked out a contract extension.
The fear of any team that signs a player to a long term contract is for that player to become injured or non-productive late in the deal whereas they are paying for essentially nothing. That is what happened with Beltran and it is what could happen with Johan Santana.
Beltran’s value to the Mets is in the hope he’s healthy and rebounds next season, because nobody will take that risk.