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The Rangers and Carlos Beltran

According to a tweet from Jon Heyman, the Texas Rangers are interested in New York Mets outfielder (and Scott Boras client) Carlos Beltran.

Carlos Beltran

#15 / Right Field / New York Mets





Apr 24, 1977

The switch-hitting Beltran is in the final season of a 7 year, $119 million deal he signed prior to the 2005 season.  He is owed $18.5 million for 2011 and has a full no-trade clause as part of the deal.

I've been somewhat dismissive of suggestions that the Rangers would make a significant push for Beltran this year...he missed half of the 2009 and 2010 seasons with injuries, and his knee problems are such that he's playing just right field for the Mets this season, rather than centerfield, where he's spent most of his career.  Beltran as a centerfield would be an attractive piece for the Rangers, but Beltran as a rightfielder would seem to have less appeal.

That being said, the presumption is that the Rangers would be interested in a centerfielder because they don't want to put Josh Hamilton out there in center.  As it stands now, however, the Rangers' third outfielder is basically a three-headed monster, with Endy Chavez and Craig Gentry each starting a couple of times per week in center, and then David Murphy playing left field a couple of times per week, with Hamilton sliding over into center.  The situation has been made more complicated by Murphy's season-long slump...the Rangers hoped that they'd have four starting-caliber major league outfielders this season, but in reality, have only had two.

But it may be that the Rangers feel that Beltran would represent enough of an upgrade that it would be worth using Hamilton in center for the final months of the season.  Beltran's bat is still a weapon -- he's got a .278/.372/.480 slash line this season, and generally maintains an OBP in the upper-300 range.  His power is off some, and his speed isn't what it was in his prime, but he'd still be an ideal #4 hitter with this lineup, slotting behind Hamilton.  

The defensive numbers are not consistent the past few years -- UZR has him at below average in center in 2009 and 2010 and about average in right field this year, while +/- has him at around average in center those two seasons and well above average in right in 2011.

Beltran would make the team better, and with the Mets not looking like playoff contenders and dealing with financial issues, you have to believe they will be open to shopping Beltran (along with closer Francisco Rodriguez) at the trade deadline.  Heyman hints that the Rangers have interest in K-Rod as well, and a Beltran/K-Rod package could allow the Rangers to shore up a couple of positions at once, albeit at a not-insignificant cost, both financially and in terms of prospects.

I have no idea what the Mets would be asking for for Beltran, although obviously, the Rangers have plenty of pieces available to deal.  That makes it hard to determine if it is worth upgrading from Gentry, Chavez or Murphy in the lineup to Beltran.  The Rangers, of course, have third basemen, Chris Davis, and Julio Borbon to offer as part of a package, but the Mets have David Wright at third base, Ike Davis at first base, and Angel Pagan at center.  Shortstop is probably a priority position for the Mets, with Jose Reyes likely gone after the season, but the Rangers don't have any shortstop prospects anywhere near major league ready.

The other factor to keep in mind is that Beltran would provide some insurance for both Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz.  Both players have been on the disabled list this season, and the lineup would take a big hit if either would be out for any period of time.  Bringing Beltran on board would allow the Rangers to better absorb the loss of either one of those key bats, were they to miss more time.

Probably nothing will come about of all this, but it is worth keeping an eye on.