Right before the trading deadline this past season, San Francisco made a questionable move. With Buster Posey out for the year, they decided to “go for it” and try to defend their championship, trading highly touted prospect Zack Wheeler for Carlos Beltran. Wheeler is now the Mets’ top prospect, and depending on what scouting service you use, is ranked as high as Jacob Turner. Here is the catch, though. Usually, in a situation like this, if the Giants didn’t want to sign Beltran, or they knew he’d get more money elsewhere, they’d offer him arbitration. He’d decline, and since he’s type A status, they’d get a first round pick back, and be able to recoup the loss of Wheeler via the draft. However, Beltran has a condition in his contract where he’s unable to be offered arbitration, and therefore, the Giants will receive nothing if Beltran decides to walk. This is a perfect scenario for the Tigers, where they could get a marquis free agent, yet not have to pay anything in terms of draft picks. Beltran’s only cost would be monetary, and he definitely fits the mold of Ilitch’s “big bat” that he’s looking to throw money at this winter. Should the Tigers sign Beltran? It’s definitely an intriguing option.
Obviously the first question with Carlos Beltran is can he stay healthy? That’s the most important part. Honestly, I’m not sure, but I’m willing to find out. This has the potential to be a move with huge upside for the Tigers, and they could probably get away with a two-year commitment worth 25MM or so. The two teams rumored to sign everyone, the Yankees and the Red Sox, seem like they have internal options in Swisher and Reddick that they’re willing to try, so the Tigers could be the biggest player for Beltran’s services this winter.
Coming off a season in which he hit .300/.385/.525/.910 with 22 HR and 84 RBI, Beltran would fit perfectly into the three hole in the Tiger lineup. He, along with Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez would be one of the scariest 3-4-5 in the league. Beltran takes a walk at a 12% clip, has excellent plate discipline, and like V-Mart, would immediately come in and be a leader in the clubhouse. He’s been “there” before, wherever “there” is, and has plenty of playoff experience. If Beltran stays healthy, he’ll be a beast at the plate.
In the field, Beltran may not be the speedster he once was, but as a LF, is more than passable. Since he has the instincts and intelligence of a once great CF, his route running and judgment are impeccable. Beltran is also an excellent base runner, evidenced by stealing 30-40 bases in the past, and also being near the top of the league in extra bases taken. Maybe he could teach Austin Jackson a thing or two about being aggressive on the bases.
While Beltran may not be the player he once was, he showed last year that there is plenty left in the tank. He won’t steal 40 bases or hit 40 homers like he used to, but I don’t think a .285/.365/.485/.850 line is too egregious of a projection for the next two years. That’d look awesome in the three hole, and if the price is right, the Tigers make a perfect suitor for Beltran’s services.