Oct 27, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals right fielderCarlos Beltran
hits a RBI single against the Boston Red Sox in the third inning during game four of the MLB baseball World Series at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: H.Darr Beiser-USA TODAY Sports
If you’re interested in (or able to) read Spanish, here’s the original article out of Puerto Rico, but James Schmehl of MLive has passed on the crux of the piece:
"According to Primera Hora, a Puerto Rican newspaper, the Tigers recently reached out to Beltran’s agent, Dan Lozano, and inquired about the eight-time All-Star.Details of the conversation between the two sides remain unclear, but Beltran told the newspaper that he anticipates signing with a team by mid-December."
So we have no idea if talks progressed to any significant degree, but the idea that the Tigers reached out to the Carlos Beltran camp is interesting. After shedding one large contract for a DH-type player, one wouldn’t think they would be rushing out to sign another. A Beltran deal wouldn’t be the long-term commitment that the Prince Fielder contract represented, but he’s still a player that would require a mult-year eight figure commitment while being a liability in the field.
Beltran was once an elite defender, even in center field, but the 36 year-old has seen his outfield skills diminish in recent years. He spent the past three years mostly in right field for the New York Mets, San Francisco Giants, and St. Louis Cardinals, but graded out rather poorly defensively according to UZR (-8 runs per year). Defensive runs saved isn’t so convinced that he’s that bad (DRS rates him at -2 runs total over the past three seasons), but even then it was with a -6 in 2013. If the Tigers were to sign Beltran it would be as the everyday left fielder — the easiest outfield spot at Comerica Park — but even still, he would probably have to hit quite a bit to be a better overall value than Andy Dirks (a very good defender) and a cheap platoon mate.
But hitting is exactly the thing Beltran has done well, even recently. He hit .283/.343/.493 over the past two seasons in St. Louis which isn’t a heck-ton different than that .295/.387/.491 line Prince Fielder put up in his two years in Detroit. 40 points of OBP isn’t nothing, but Beltran has actually hit for more power than Fielder these past couple years (.210 ISO vs. .196). He would be a great addition to the lineup (especially as a switch hitter), but the question is always the cost. He rejected a qualifying offer from the Cardinals, so the team that signs him will have to give up their first round draft pick next season in addition to the estimated two-years, $30 million they’d probably have to guarantee him.
Beltran’s still a good player, and he might be worth that money to some team, but he’s probably not worth that money to the Tigers who could get a good chunk of his projected 2.0 WAR from Andy Dirks for a small fraction of the amount. I’m guessing this was a due diligence conversation and that the Tigers aren’t actively engaged in talks here.