Fifteen years in the big leagues and Carlos Beltran's offensive numbers are still good enough to place him as one of the most valued free agents in the majors this winter.
Beltran recently turned down a one-year, $14.1 million offer from the St. Louis Cardinals, according to Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com. He is seeking a multi-year contract, and teams such as the Boston Red Sox, the New York Yankees and the Baltimore Orioles are interested in signing the 36-year-old.
During the 2013 regular season, Beltran hit .296 with 24 home runs and 84 RBIs.
Throughout his career, in a total of 51 postseason games for the Astros, Mets and Cardinals, Beltran has 16 homers, a .333 average and a .445 on-base percentage per Dick Kaegel of MLB.com.
With an aging Beltran's stats still pretty good, it is clear to see why the Boston Red Sox are interested in signing him. According to a number of sources, including Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald, Boston and Beltran are having serious discussions about their future.
The biggest reason why the Red Sox should try for Beltran is because free agent Jacoby Ellsbury is most likely going to leave the team. With Ellsbury gone, there will be space in the outfield for Beltran.
This may appear desirable to Beltran, who told Kaegel that whatever team he goes to he wants more playing time.
Even if Beltran doesn't play the Boston outfield, he has a chance to play first base. Right now, there is the question of whether or not Mike Napoli will stick around with Boston, according to Lauber. If he doesn't, Beltran could take his spot. Beltran has gotten slower with age so the decreased mobility required at first base could fit him well.
Bryan Hoch of MLB.com noted that the Red Sox's rivals, the New York Yankees, are also interested in signing Beltran.
Beltran is just one of many free agents the Yankees are considering. New York is also interested in Brian McCann, Jhonny Peralta, Masahiro Tanaka and Stephen Drew, per Mark Feinsand and Michael O'Keeffe of the New York Daily News.
As we all know, money is usually not an issue for the Yankees. So it may be possible that a deal goes down between New York and Beltran. Currently the Yankees' outfield consists of Brett Gardner, Ichiro Suzuki and Alfonso Soriano. Carlos Beltran would be an offensive improvement over at least both Suzuki and Gardner.
The Baltimore Orioles have also expressed interest in signing Beltran per Chris Mascaro of Sports Illustrated. However, Ricky Doyle of NESN Sports argued that the Orioles cannot pursue the outfielder until they clear up some salary space.
The Boston Globe writer Nick Cafardo agrees with Mascaro, tweeting:
The Orioles would love to land Carlos Beltran. The question becomes does owner Peter Angelos open the purse strings?— Nick Cafardo (@nickcafardo) November 12, 2013
And to do so, the Orioles are considering trading catcher Matt Wieters. In 2013, Wieters hit .235/.287/.417 for his worst statistical season of his career.
Trading Wieters doesn't seem to be the right move however. Jay Jaffe of Sports Illustrated suggests that the Orioles should keep Wieters and bank on a rebound from him. With Wieters being a career .255/.319/.420 hitter and the lack of catchers on the market, the Orioles should stick to Wieters and move on from Beltran.
Beltran, who was first drafted by Kansas City in 1995, spoke to Kaegel about a possible return to the Royals:
Based on how they played this year, of course that's a possibility -- they competed; they had a team that almost won the Wild Card. They can compete, and my decision will be based on teams that are competing. That's a team that I would consider, for sure. I don't want to go back to a team that's not competing.
Which team needs Beltran's services the most?
Even though Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports stated the Royals would love to see a reunion with Beltran, they may not be able to afford him.
The Royals have a low payroll. Their 2013 payroll was $81.9 million according to Cot's Baseball Contracts. Compared to the Red Sox, the Yankees and others, the Royals can easily be outbid for Beltran. So chances are, although both parties are interested, Beltran won't end up in Kansas City.
Of all the teams considering Beltran, the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees seem to be the biggest contenders. Both need help in the outfield. But while the Yankees are looking to upgrade their outfield with Beltran, the Red Sox are looking to fill a gap if Ellsbury leaves.
Besides the opportunity to play more, the fact that the Red Sox beat the Cardinals in the 2013 World Series just might intrigue Beltran enough to sign with Boston.