The Boston Red Sox have been rumored to have interest in stud veteran outfielder Carlos Beltran. It makes sense on many levels; Beltran has always been a clutch performer, he would provide protection to David Ortiz in the Boston lineup and would be an excellent replacement for Jacoby Ellsbury.
All of that being said, the Red Sox should pass on signing Beltran this winter. As much as I love Beltran the player, I can't justify the Red Sox sacrificing a first-round draft pick in order to sign the 36-year-old Beltran to a two-year contract.
This isn't a knock on Beltran's production. In fact, he has been excellent the past two seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals, totaling 56 home runs and knocking in 181 runs. But as productive as Beltran has been during the two years, it is difficult to project that production over the next two seasons.
Things have seemingly changed quickly in baseball. MLB's crackdown on PEDs throughout the sport has caused some players to get old quickly and seemingly has also caused power numbers to drop for some older players. This year's postseason seemed to be dominated by power starting pitching and strong bullpens.
Once the Cardinals extended a qualifying offer to Beltran, the Red Sox should have shifted their attention in another direction. Unless all three of the Red Sox's free agents leave and Boston ends up with three top compensation picks, Boston should continue on the path of building through the farm system and adding where it makes sense.
Boston will have many options this winter if Ellsbury leaves in free agency. I expect Ellsbury to leave, and I would expect the Red Sox to kick the tires on many outfielders this winter. Players like Michael Cuddyer, Norichika Aoki or Carlos Gonzalez make a lot of sense for Boston depending on what has to go back to the other team. Gonzalez in particular is a player who might fit well in Boston and is locked up through 2017.
The Red Sox could also take the plunge and explore a Giancarlo Stanton deal this winter. Boston certainly has enough prospects in its farm system to potentially entice the Miami Marlins into looking at a Stanton deal.
Young cost-controlled players are now the most valuable commodity in the sport and the key to continued excellence. Losing Ellsbury will hurt in the short term, but signing Beltran and giving up another draft pick could hurt more in the long term.
Boston general manager Ben Cherington will have many options this winter, but hopefully Beltran isn't one of them.
Information used from Baseball Reference