Before you start booing, the idea of the Astros trading for New York Yankees outfielder Carlos Beltran is not so farfetched.
Sure, there are sects of the Astros fan base that harbor feelings of contempt for Carlos Beltran. Most fans were just disappointed when he left for New York. Life went on. A lot of us got over it. You can’t fault a man who had the right to choose where he wanted to work.
Isn’t freedom, beautiful?
Adding an outfielder like Beltran makes sense once you move past, well, the past. In fact, the 2016 Astros, much like the 2004 Astros, are in need of another outfield bat. Carlos Gomez (64 OPS+) and Colby Rasmus (83 OPS+) have been nothing less than disappointing on the field in 2016.
Beltran, even at 39-years old, is still a productive hitter. His 138 OPS+ would be a welcomed addition to the Astros lineup. And he still plays an adequate outfield as long as it’s not center field.
The catch though may be the cost to acquire Beltran. And don’t forget about the glut of outfielders and corner infielders currently on the Astros roster.
From a production standpoint, the process of acquiring a player with 21 home runs and 62 RBI would usually be rather steep. However, the Yankees are approaching seller’s territory. Their performance this upcoming weekend may dictate who stays or goes in the Bronx.
Regardless of what the Yankees do the rest of the way, the “Evil Empire” is unlikely to re-sign Beltran in the offseason. He is in the last year of his existing contract, and the value for 39-year old rentals has to be less than acquiring pitchers right now. And unlike the pitching market, the outfield seems a bit saturated. See Josh Redick, Jay Bruce, Ryan Braun, Carlos Gonzalez as examples.
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At the end of the day, the Yankees may want a king’s ransom for Beltran. He has arguably been the most productive Yankee in 2016. But the market may dictate what the return is for a 39-year old outfielder on an expiring contract.
If Beltran somehow ended up as an Astro once again, his return would essentially force Gomez and Rasmus into a platoon in center field, and Jake Marisnick would be relegated to the fifth outfielder role. Preston Tucker would be sent back to the minors. And any of the four listed above could be Astros trade bait.
Of course, Alex Bregman would need to play the outfield at times for lineup configuration purposes, especially once third baseman Yulieski Gurriel is called up. However, Evan Gattis returning to his catcher roots allow for more roster flexibility regarding the designated hitter. And the notion sliding George Springer into center field shouldn’t be excluded as well.
At the end of the day, Beltran is an experienced bat which is playoff tested. See his eight home runs in the 2004 postseason as an example. He would also be a good veteran presence in the locker room. Even if he is just a rental, it remains rather doubtful that the Astros would make this trade unless the outfield is cleared out a bit.
**Statistics provided by Baseball-Reference**