Market For Beltran Suspiciously Calm – And We Know What That Means
By Chris Hannum
Nobody seems particularly interested in signing Carlos Beltran – a bit surprising since the guy is a genuine star. Of course, he’s also 34 and often injured so it isn’t as though he would be a signing without risks.
Most of the rumors that we’ve heard over the past month or so have been clarifications from teams that they are not interested in signing Carlos Beltran – particularly his current club (the Giants) and the Red Sox. A month ago we heard that the Marlins had some interest, but they appear to have moved on. The most recent tidbit is that the Cardinals are, at the very least, kicking the tires on Beltran – which at this point would have to make them the front-runner to sign him.
So why so little interest?
It certainly doesn’t have much to do with productivity, though some GMs might be worried about signing any 34-year-old to a lucrative deal. It has everything to do with injuries and probably mostly the difficulty in insuring a Beltran deal. It is common for teams to insure free agent contracts against the risk of injury, with payoffs potentially in the neighborhood of 3/4 of the player’s salary and premiums in the neighborhood of 10%. The catch? They tend to have the same sort of ‘pre-existing condition’ clauses that your health insurance policy does (whether you are aware of it or not) so that certain parts of the body would be excluded. In Beltran’s case, this would be his knees – so a policy might insure the signing team against any injury but those to the knees. Since an injured knee isn’t likely to ever be a normal knee again, teams probably feel that those knees are likely to keep him out of games in the future.
There is one other reason that the Beltran market might be so quiet: he’s no longer represented by energetic super-agent Scott Boras, at the beginning of November he switched to Dan Lozano. I’m not saying that Dan Lozano is necessarily a less effective agent than Scott Boras (who am I to judge) but Dan Lozano is the agent who represents Albert Pujols. He could certainly be forgiven for ignoring his other clients while working ’round the clock to get Albert that $254 million paycheck from the Los Angeles Angels. If the big reason we haven’t heard much about Beltran was the preoccupation of his agent, we’re probably going to hear a lot more soon.
While not having signed through the middle of December is really no rarity for a high-caliber free agent, it isn’t so common to hear no-one mention the guy as a potential option. With the exception of the Cardinals’ post-Pujols search re-evaluation of options, we really haven’t heard anything at all about Beltran (except here on MCB). That suggests that Beltran could easily be this year’s equivalent of Pudge Rodriguez 2004 [signed Feb 6], or Magglio Ordonez [signed Feb 7], or Johnny Damon [signed Feb 22] or Jose Valverde [signed Jan 19] – a guy that just lingers on the market until his agent starts to get desperate and even the Motor City starts to look awfully nice.
If interest in Beltran seems to pick up quickly and he’s signed by Christmas – I really doubt that it will be the Tigers doing the signing. If, on the other hand, Detroit loses Cespedes to the Fish and Beltran is still out there when the after Christmas sales are over… It wouldn’t surprise me at all if Dan Lozano cold called Mike Illitch and made something happen out of the blue, it wouldn’t be the first time.