Jon Paul Morosi tweeted this afternoon that according to his sources, the Detroit Tigers have some level of interest in acquiring New York Mets outfielder Carlos Beltran. Morosi went on to say that the focus of the club is not on Beltran, however, but on adding starting pitching.
There is great appeal in adding a bat like Beltran’s to the Tigers lineup, or anyone else’s really. Beltran has enjoyed a resurgent season while playing out the final year of his contract in New York, this coming after back-to-back injury plagued campaigns. Of course, as nice as the star power of a Beltran acquisition would be, there are probably more pitfalls than there is upside to making a deal like this for Detroit.
For starters, Beltran has a clause in his contract that will prevent his club from offering him salary arbitration after the season. This would prevent the team from gaining any draft pick compensation should they deal for him and then watch as he left via free agency. What you would have would be strictly a rental player; you’d get him for two months, but no promises after that. Now, the Mets could certainly use the salary relief they would gain from dealing Beltran this year, but word is that Mets GM Sandy Alderson is telling people that if they can’t get maximum return on a deal, they’ll keep their right fielder. I don’t personally buy that one, especially given the clause in his contract. If the Mets did decide to hang on to Beltran, they would get nothing after the season if they didn’t re-sign him. Given the state of the financials with the Mets, I doubt very seriously they could. Beltran will most certainly be traded before August hits.
Let’s assume that the Tigers could pull a deal with New York, what would it cost in prospects and dollars? The answer is really one or the other, but not both. If the Mets want to get the most return on the trade, they’ll hold out for a solid package of young players. this is a list that probably starts with Andy Oliver and then a younger arm or a bat who is a bit further away from being major league ready. If the Mets are seeking to move Beltran to save the cash left on his deal, the Tigers, or any other club, could absorb the bulk of that salary (the remainder of $18.5 million) and instead offer a low-level prospect or two back to the Mets.
But if Beltran were to come to the Tigers, where would he fit? Unless a second deal was made involving Brennan Boesch, there isn’t an easy solution. Beltran would certainly be an upgrade both offensively and defensively at either corner and he can probably still play center as well, but Magglio Ordonez won’t be going anywhere and he’d be an awfully expensive backup DH. Even the Yankees don’t spend $10 million on reserve players. Ordonez would have to approve any trade (so would Beltran, for that matter), so unless you’re comfortable with the idea of trading Boesch for two-and-a-half months of Beltran, this move isn’t a smart one.
The Tigers are probably in a position to take on a bit of salary this month, but I can’t see them adding what amounts to almost $9 million to get a guy that offers a small upgrade to a position that isn’t on the list of pressing needs. If Beltran was a third baseman, this is a deal I’d love for the Tigers to be pursuing, but he’s not.
Ordonez has been hitting well since coming off the DL and Boesch has been there all year. The Tigers , if they are looking for bats, should be looking at ones that can field a ground ball and turn a double play. Even if Ordonez doesn’t recapture all of his previous magic at the plate, the Tigers have enough depth to patch things together in the outfield.