Outfielder Carlos Beltran, a former Texas Rangers and, as a member of the 2017 Houston Astros, a World Series winner in his 20th season of major league baseball, has announced his retirement via a piece in the Player’s Tribune. The news is not unexpected, as the 40 year old had a rough year in 2017, putting up a .231/.283/.383 slash line in 509 plate appearances while mostly playing as a DH for the Astros.
Beltran has a strong Hall of Fame case — the switch hitter, who spent most of his career in center field, has a career .279/.350/.486 slash line with 2725 career hits and 435 career home runs. His 69.8 career bWAR is 7th all time among center fielders, between Joe Dimaggio and Kenny Lofton.
Beltran played for seven teams in his career, starting with the Royals organization as a second round pick out of Puerto Rico in 1995 (and if you want to gnash your teeth, he the Rangers selected high school pitcher Phil Lowery earlier in the 2nd round, and then didn’t sign him). Beltran was dealt to Houston in June, 2004, in a weird three-way deal that sent Mark Teahen, Mike Wood and John Buck to the Royals, with Octavio Dotel going to Oakland. As a free agent at the end of 2004, Beltran was acquired by the Astros for a playoff push, and he was stellar for the Astros, homering 8 times in 12 games while posting a .435/.536/1.022 slash line in the NLDS and NLCS.
After 2004, Beltran signed with the Mets and, like so many who have gone before him in New York, wasn’t appreciated for how good he was there. He was shipped to the Giants in 2011 for Zach Wheeler as part of a playoff push, then signed a two year deal with the St. Louis Cardinals. After the 2013 season, Beltran was pursued by several teams, including the Rangers -- who ended up signing Shin-Soo Choo instead of Beltran — before landing with the Yankees, who shipped him to the Rangers in 2016 for Dillon Tate, Erik Swanson and Nick Green. With the Astros looking for a veteran presence and a regular DH, Beltran landed in Houston for his final season.
Congratulations to Carlos Beltran on a tremendous career, and I look forward to another former Ranger (even a former Ranger who had just a brief stint with Texas) entering the Hall of Fame in the mid-2020s.