Are the New York Mets trying to move expensive, sore-kneed, outfielder Carlos Beltran? Rumors from the baseball winter meetings indicate they are trying to do just that.
The hottest rumor is that new Mets GM Sandy Alderson is trying to coax Oakland’s GM Billy Beane, who once worked under Alderson, into taking Beltran’s $18.5 million contract.
Beane, has developed the best young pitching staff in the American League, but desperately needs an impact hitter to be a legitimate contender again in the AL West.
Carlos Beltran might just be that guy, especially considering that Beane needs to get creative after losing out on free agents Lance Berkman and – it appears – Adrian Beltre. Meanwhile, the A’s could offer the type of high-ceiling prospect or two that would be enticing to the Mets’ front-office regime, which privately is looking past 2011.
If only it were that easy.
In reality, Beltran’s $18.5 million salary next season and the uncertainty that still surrounds his arthritic knee are hurdles that make such a deal improbable at best, even if the Mets were willing to eat a lot of the money.
However, one rival executive who knows Beane well thought the A’s GM would be “intrigued by the idea of trying to catch lightning in a bottle” with Beltran. But he also said Beane probably wouldn’t be willing to give up much in return, knowing the Mets’ center fielder would be a free agent after next season.
It makes sense for the Mets to use Beltran as a trade chip. He will be 34 next season and has not played a full year since 2008, and his presence in 2011 is not likely to make or break the Mets’ season. If they can get a little younger and get some much-needed payroll flexibility moving Beltran makes a ton of sense.