Mets center fielder Carlos Beltran said that he is willing to move to right field, and would even waive his no-trade clause if the Mets were able to move him.
"If they approach me," Beltran said. "I'd have to listen."
Mets GM Sandy Alderson said that the team's chances of being involved in free agency were "unlikely," but that doesn't mean the Mets wouldn't be able to pull of a trade for valuable pieces in exchange for Beltran, who is entering the final season of his seven-year, $119 million deal.
Beltran has been hampered by injuries the last two seasons. He didn't make an appearance until after the All-Star break last season. He played in only 64 games, hitting .255 with seven home runs and 27 RBI.
Moving Beltran to right field would be the easiest solution to one of the Mets' multitude of issues heading into the 2011 season. Outfield defense, for example, is a concern. The Mets will have Jason Bay in left field, Carlos Beltran in center and Angel Pagan in right. If Beltran would accept a position change, the Mets could simply move him into right and put Pagan in center.
Pagan had a breakout season last year, opening the eyes of many fans and writers. Pagan played 94 games in center, hitting .290 with 11 home runs and 69 RBI; he even stole 37 bases for good measure. Pagan was solid defensively and the Mets would not lose anything with him in center instead of Beltran.
A move to right for the oft-injured Beltran would also spare him wear and tear on his surgically repaired knee.
If the Mets were to make such a move, the benefits outweigh the disadvantages and I think it's something they should explore.
However, I've also said that the Mets should explore the idea of trading some of their "core" players. Some people have debated me about whether or not Beltran is part of the Mets core. He is, simply because he's been a key to the Mets offense since his signing. Put simply, if Beltran is 100 percent healthy, the Mets are a better team.
As far as a trade of Beltran goes, that would be much more difficult. Beltran is set to make $18.5 million next season, and the Mets would almost certainly have to pick up at least half of that to complete a trade.
Beltran has also had injury problems the last two seasons, which definitely devalues him—the Mets might not be able to get much quality back. Also, though he has said he'd listen to the idea of a trade, Beltran does have a full no-trade clause, so he'd have to accept whatever team is willing to talk.
The two biggest outfielders on the free agent market are Carl Crawford and Jayson Werth. A lot of teams will be competing for their services, including the Angels, Yankees and Red Sox.
Two free agents, multiple teams—you do the math—someone is going to lose out. Would that team entertain the idea of acquiring Beltran?
A trade would be difficult, and unlikely, but if the Mets have the chance, they should entertain offers.