Joel Sherman of the New York Post provided some interesting food for thought in his blog on Tuesday when he offered up the notion of St. Louis Cardinals’ outfielder Carlos Beltran joining the New York Yankees in 2013.
Beltran has a year left on the two-year, $26 million deal he signed with the Cardinals last December and is coming off a very solid 2012. Beltran was an All-Star for the Cardinals, hitting .269/.346/.495 with 32 homers and 97 RBI. He helped St. Louis return to the National League Championship Series despite losing Albert Pujols to the Los Angeles Angels via free agency last winter.
Most importantly, Beltran played in 151 games for the Cardinals, making 132 starts in right field and another nine in center field. It was his most healthy and productive season since 2008, when he hit .284/.376/.500 with 27 homers and 112 RBI in 161 games for the New York Mets.
With the Yankees, Beltran could protect his balky knees by spending more time at designated hitter after starting just three games at DH for the Cardinals this season.
Beltran is a switch-hitter with pop, just like free-agent-to-be Nick Swisher was for New York. Swisher hit .272/.364/.473 for the Yankees in 2012, adding 24 homers and 93 RBI. In four seasons in the Bronx, Swisher posted numbers of .268/.367/.483 and averaged 26 home runs and 87 RBI a year.
But unlike Swisher, whose postseason failures are historic (his lifetime .169 batting average is the lowest in major-league history for players with more than 50 at-bats), Beltran is a proven playoff performer.
In the 2012 playoffs, Beltran hit .357/.440/.714 with three homers and six RBI in 12 games. He missed most of Game 3 of the NLCS and all of Game 4 after his knee locked up running to first base in his first at-bat in Game 3 against the San Francisco Giants.
In 34 career playoff games, Beltran has hit .363/.470/.782 with 14 home runs and 25 RBI.
Beltran is scheduled to make $13 million in 2013. The Cardinals have $92 million already committed for next season and ownership has said it wants to keep the payroll around $110 million. Closer Jason Motte and third baseman David Freese are due big raises in arbitration, as well.
Sherman theorizes that a package of reliever Joba Chamberlain and young second baseman David Adams might be enough to entice St. Louis into dealing Beltran to New York. Chamberlain is also due to be a free agent after the 2013 season while Adams could answer the Cardinals’ desires for a second baseman who can provide some offense.
The Cardinals may have concerns about how well Beltran’s knees can hold up defensively at age 36, and a trade would free up more than $10 million for St. Louis for next season.
With the ability to move Beltran in and out of the defensive rotation by DHing him judiciously, a move to Yankee Stadium might be a perfect fit for both the New York Yankees and Carlos Beltran.