After a few days out of the lineup the flu, New York Mets right fielder Carlos Beltran returned Tuesday -- and he did so emphatically, going 3-for-3 with two doubles and drawing two walks.
But while the 34-year-old outfielder was MIA, the interest among contending teams in baseball has not faded one bit. In fact, they've heated up to the point where you can't look away for one second without reading a new Beltran rumor, and that many prospective teams are craving his production. For Sandy Alderson and the front office, the fact that the interest remains so intense is a very good thing. The fact that Beltran appears to be the best hitter on the market, and one that could make a real difference come the playoff push and into the playoffs, adds to the love affair.
The interest for Beltran is so high, sources say, that the Mets might trade him several days or more before the July 31 non-waiver deadline - and include less money in the deal than they initially expected would be necessary.
Currently, the Phillies are using 24-year-old rookie Domonic Brown in right field, who's batting .245 with five home runs and 16 RBI in 159 at-bats. The Red Sox have been using the broken down J.D. Drew for the majority of the season, who is batting .223 with four home runs and 22 RBI in 233 at-bats. They've given youngster Josh Reddick a chance now that Drew has struggled so bad.
To add to the Phillies-Mets connection, ESPN NY's Adam Rubin reported that the Phillies sent scouts to Citi Field to watch Beltran, Scott Hairston and Tim Byrdak.
But with interest as heightened as it is, what can the Mets expect to receive from these two teams?
MLB Network's Peter Gammons was on the radio (WFAN) today and said the Mets "should expect to get back one really good prospect and a secondary prospect," according to Matt Cerrone of Metsblog.com. Gammons believes the Mets would be able to acquire Mike Minor and another prospect from the Atlanta Braves if the Mets went that route.
Alderson seems to be in the driver's seat right now with Beltran. While Beltran is older and may not run as well as he used to, he is still a tremendous hitter and a potential difference maker for the remainder of the season for a contending team. When he talks to the Phillies, he should begin by asking for talented (but raw) Brown and 21-year-old Jarred Cosart, the Phillies' best pitching prospect, who has a 4.12 ERA 1.28 WHIP and has allowed 85 hits in 96 innings while striking out 72. Another guy to ask for is a pitcher like Trevor May, who is lighting up Single-A. The overpowering stuff for dominance is there, but the results have not been just yet. When Alderson speaks to the Red Sox, who don't have the strongest farm system, he should be asking about someone like Reddick, outfield prospect Bryce Brentz, third base prospect Will Middlebrooks and/or 21-year-old pitcher Anthony Ranaudo. Not saying the Mets will be able to get any of these guys, but they should at least aim high.