If you were Sox GM, would you sign Beltran?


Veteran OF Carlos Beltran is consistently linked to the Red Sox in FA signing rumors, so let’s take a look at his downside and upside and take a vote.

carlos beltran 2 FINALDOWNSIDE:

He has chronic knee problems and will be 37 in April; he could spend a lot of time in the DL and become an expensive unofficial bench coach.

He will not be able to play OF on a daily basis. [80-120 games?]

He might hold out for a 3-4 year “final” contract and want $40-50 Million and reach age 40/41; the 2-year deal would be about $30 Million.

His range has shrunk and he would be limited to LF in Fenway and be a defensive liability on the road.

Ortiz is already the regular Lefty-batting DH; when Beltran is DH, Papi goes to the bench.

He would need regular rest to play his best.

“After walking in just over 13 percent of his plate appearances from 2008-09, Beltran’s walk rate dipped to about 12 percent from 2010-11, then 10.5 percent in 2012 before plummeting to 6.3 percent in 2013.

The resulting .339 OBP was his lowest mark since 2005. He also showed an uncharacteristic platoon split in 2013, hitting lefties at just a .252/.281/.448 clip.

Defensively, Beltran has graded out below average for several years now, but 2013 was particularly unsightly. Beltran’s -18.7 UZR/150 was fourth-lowest among all qualified position players, and The Fielding Bible‘s assessment of -6 defensive runs saved, while an improvement isn’t much of an endorsement either.” cautions Steve Adams, MLB Trade Rumors.

UPSIDE:

He started 269 regular-season games for St. Louis in the outfield in 2012-13. [Could start 130?]

He could learn the Monster’s idiosyncrasies and play LF at home.

He could be DH against LHPs, who give Ortiz problems at bat.

He is a friend of David Ortiz and would provide veteran leadership and positive clubhouse chemistry. “On the field, he’s seen as a leader by his teammates and enjoys offering advice on hitting and outfield positioning.” says Steve Adams, MLB Trade Rumors.

He could fill the LHB ABs gap, created; if Stephen Drew, Jacoby Ellsbury and Jarrod Saltalamacchia leave the team, it would vacate 1,471 of Boston’s 3,141 lefty-swinging plate appearances (46.8 percent). Each had an OPS in the high-.800s vs. righty pitching, helping Boston generate an .818 OPS against righties — 30 points higher than any other team.

The other likely Sox Lefty batters are Mike Carp and Daniel Nava, who proved effective as supplementary pieces against righties.  Jackie Bradley Jr. will start in CF an hit lefty, but Shane Victorino, is not a real switch-hitter, did not bat much from the left side late last year due to a hamstring injury, and has essentially admitted that hitting lefty was a failed experiment.

Steve Adams at MLB Rumors notes some positives:

“Beltran is a dangerous hitter, plain and simple. Over the past eight seasons, he’s averaged a 135 OPS+ and 31 homers per 162 games, and he posted a 128 OPS+ in 2013. Among qualified free agent position players, only Robinson Cano, Marlon Byrd and Shin-Soo Choo have a higher wRC+ than Beltran’s 132 (and Byrd, of course, is no lock to repeat that feat). Based on those numbers, Beltran was somewhere between 28 and 32 percent better than a league-average hitter this season.

For someone with so much power, Beltran is actually pretty difficult to strike out. He whiffed in just 15 percent of his plate appearances in 2013 — a mark that was bested by only Nate McLouth and Jacoby Ellsbury among free agent outfielders (assuming, of course, that Coco Crisp‘s option is exercised).

He’s played in at least 140 games in 12 of 15 seasons dating back to 2001. He’s averaged 146 games over the past three years, quieting those who thought he was finished after playing in just 145 total games from 2009-10.”

Scott Boras is NOT his agent; it is Dan Lozano of the MVP Sports Group.

STAT SIDE:

2013:

.296/.339/.491, 24/84

Career Averages:

.283

/.359

/.496,

28/104

Career Average WAR: 5.19

2012: 3.8

2013: 2.4

Splits as possible DH:

vs RHP as LHB 129 429 391 123 21 2 17 56 1 0 31 64 .315 .362 .509 .871
vs LHP as RHB 76 171 163 41 9 1 7 28 1 1 7 26 .252 .281 .448 .729
vs LH Starter 39 38 160 149 24 42 9 0 7 22 1 1 10 20 .282 .331 .483 .814
vs RH Starter 106 100 440 405 55 122 21 3 17 62 1 0 28 70 .301 .342 .494 .836

Projected Fld Avg for 2013: .980-.986.

CONCLUSION:

Accepting that he is a high risk for injuries to his knees and will spend some time on the DL and will not be able to play more than 130 of 162 games, if he will accept a 2-year contract for $30-40 Million [$15-20 M per year], Beltran has enough left in his tank to be a significant asset.

Once he learns how to play the Wall Balls at Fenway, he can start in LF and Ortiz can DH.

The Monster will work to his advantage with less ground to cover and short relays to the infield.

If he can play all of the home games in LF against RHPs, say 54 of 81 and PH in the rest, he would be a plus on offense.

His diminishing range in the OF would be a negative in the 81 road games, where he might start between 45-50 games.  He can also PH and give Ortiz the occasional day off at DH.

He might also serve as a role model and OF coach for Jackie Bradley, Jr. and provide useful advice to team mates on hitting.

We will split the difference and establish our contract as

2 years for a total of $30 Million.

WHAT IS YOUR TAKE ON SIGNING CARLOS BELTRAN?

Assuming a 2-year contract for $20 Million per year, should the Sox sign Carlos Beltran?

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Tags: Boston Red Sox Carlos Beltran Contract FA

  • Rick M

    I look at the downsides and stop right there. Time to get away from extended contracts that are handed to players on the road to retirement.

    • http://bosoxinjection.com/ Earl Nash

      Point taken. I am ready to let the kids take the field in 2014 and live with the growing pains to get to that next homegrown core team that will last a decade. If they want wait and patch for 2014, maybe a Chase Headley would be a better idea.

      • John Fahrer

        They’ll still bring in a FA or two. Wouldn’t bite on Headley unless the price was cheap.

  • Willy W

    The only way Id sign Beltran is: 1. he is your 2nd or 3rd Free Agent signing after you’ve filled other needs, 2. he isnt worth a 1st round draft pick so see reason #1, 3. he comes at a reasonable price-IE- 2 years at lets say no more than $13m per.
    Otherwise forget it, no way I invest a 1st rnd pk or go way high on money/years…

    • John Fahrer

      He won’t get anything higher than four years.

      It pretty much comes down to Napoli and what he decides to do. If he walks, I could see them bringing Beltran in to play LF in year 1 and DH in year 2. Nava could play 1B and Beltran could dabble in it a little as well.