5 Carlos Beltran Trades That Could Help New York Mets Become Contenders
Picture this scene; it’s late July, and the Mets are sitting in last place with no hope of reversing their fortunes. In other words, it’s become yet another lost summer in Queens.
Fortunately for the Mets, patrolling Center Field is a healthy and all-star caliber slugger named Carlos Beltran. His hefty salary has become an albatross to the Mets’ payroll, and Sandy Alderson is actively shopping him, gauging the interest level of current playoff contenders.
Who offers the best package? What exactly would the Mets seek in return for Beltran?
Here are five possible trade scenarios that will benefit contending teams in the short term, as well as the Mets and their commitment to the future.
Beltran for Jacoby Ellsbury (Red Sox)
Since the initial rumors of a potential Beltran trade surfaced, the Boston Red Sox have seemed destined to acquire the slugger. The Mets and Sox have engaged in conversation about a deal on several occasions in the past year, even going as far as talking potential players. The one name that has been consistently mentioned is that of Jacoby Ellsbury.
The Red Sox would be acquiring a power hitting center fielder to join forces in an already long-ball adept line up featuring Adrian Gonzalez, David Ortiz and Kevin Youkulis. The lure of finally dethroning the Yankees in the divisional race may be all too tempting for the Sox not to make this deal come late July.
Acquiring Beltran means Ellsbury becomes expendable for the Sox, and you can bet this is the type of player the Mets would love to have patrol center field at Citi Field for the foreseeable future. The Mets certainly don’t lose any defense in swapping Beltran for Ellsbury, as Jacoby possesses a zen-like reputation with the glove. Sure, the Mets would be losing a significant amount of power, but it’s been well documented that the Wilpons are in favor of building a team based on speed and defense in spacious Citi Field.
It’s worth noting that Ellsbury missed 144 games in 2010 due to a rib injury. However, if Jacoby can prove that he’s healthy and able to perform at a high level, expect rumors of this swap to heat up come late July.
Beltran for Julio Borbon, Martin Perez (Rangers)
Make no mistake about it; Julio Borbon is hardly Carlos Beltran. He has only one full major league season under his belt, one in which he hit an underwhelming .276 with three home runs, 42 RBI’s, and 15 stolen bases. However, the 24-year-old center fielder fits perfectly with the speed and defense the Mets are preaching at Citi Field, and he brings playoff experience as a member of the American League champion Texas Rangers in 2010.
Of course, the Mets wouldn’t ask for only Borbon in this trade. Pitching is a necessity when downgrading your offense to the extent the Mets would be if they did indeed swap Beltran for Borbon.
However, it’s no secret that Nolan Ryan and the Rangers hold major league ready arms to be a sacred possession. With this being said, the Mets would be hard pressed to acquire an established big league pitcher from Texas. Instead, they could potentially inquire about Martin Perez, the Rangers’ top pitching prospect. Perez is a left handed ace in the making, and at 19 years of age has already drawn comparisons to Johan Santana. He should open up 2010 in either Double-A Frisco or Triple-A Round Rock.
You may be asking yourself why the Rangers would be inclined to deal their top pitching prospect for an aging center fielder. Well, Pairing Carlos Beltran in an already formidable lineup with Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz, Michael Young, Ian Kinsler and Adrian Beltre may prove to be exactly what the Rangers need to get over the hump and ultimately win a World Series in the near future. It certainly would have altered the outcome in last October’s World Series defeat.
Beltran for Zack Wheeler, Gary Brown (Giants)
Given the Wilpon’s infinity for building a team based on speed, defense and pitching, Zack Wheeler and Gary Brown should be tremendously appealing to the Mets.
At 20 years of age, Wheeler is the Giants top pitching prospect. The sixth overall pick in the 2009 draft, Wheeler recorded 70 strikeouts in 58.2 innings pitched during his first minor league season at Single-A Augusta. He would bring yet another high potential name to a young Mets pitching core of the future that already boasts the likes of Jenry Mejia, Jon Niese, Mike Pelfrey, etc.
22-year-old Gary Brown could potentially replace Beltran in the Mets everyday lineup in the near future. He’s a product of collegiate baseball powerhouse Cal State Fulerton, and boasts both speed and a solid bat. He’s a contact hitter who rarely strikes out, although he doesn’t draw many walks. Think Jacoby Ellsbury with less plate discipline at this point in time, but with surprisingly more pop for his 6’, 180 pound frame. He would mesh well at the top of a Mets lineup that already causes headaches for opposing pitchers on the base paths.
As for the Giants, the appeal of acquiring a slugging outfielder is something that may prove to be all too overpowering. Adding a bonafide long ball hitter to the middle of their lineup, coupled with their superb pitching staff, may be the missing link for them in terms of repeating as World Champions in 2011.
Beltran for Peter Bourjos, Jordan Walden (Angels)
At 23 years of age, Peter Bourjos broke into the everyday lineup with the Angels by the end of 2010. He showed signs of both the speed and surprising pop that prompted the Angels to call him up to the big leagues in August, hitting six home runs while swiping ten bases in 51 games. He’s a raw talent, as his .204 batting average indicates, but given some seasoning he should become a more disciplined hitter. Bourjos’ speed in center field would more than make up for Jason Bay’s lack of range over in left.
Walden, 23, is a closer in the making. Given the uncertainty surrounding Francisco Rodriguez and the rest of the Mets bullpen, you could bet the Mets are looking for young bullpen depth for the future. Walden certainly would satisfy that need.
Beltran would give the Angels a power bat in the middle of their order, and that’s something they're sorely lacking going into 2011 after Hideki Matsui signed with division rival Oakland.
Beltran for Jonny Gomes, Billy Hamilton (Reds)
In Jonny Gomes, the Mets would be acquiring a battle-tested veteran with a big bat. In doing so, the Mets would move Gomes to right field, enabling Angel Pagan to play his more natural position of center field. He’d give Ike Davis, David Wright and Jason Bay the protection in the middle of the lineup that they’d need with Beltran gone. When playing in at least 100 games over the course of a season for his career, Gomes has yet to hit under 17 home runs. He could keep the position warm until one of either Fernando Martinez or super prospect Cory Vaughn proves to be big league ready.
However, this trade would be more about acquiring the young and athletic Billy Hamilton rather than Jonny Gomes. Hamilton, 20, is a middle infielder with exceptional speed and range. He’s a ways away from the big leagues, but scouts already salivate over his skill set. He doesn’t boast much power yet, but hits an exceptional .318 with Rookie League affiliate Billings in 2010, his second minor league season. Given the uncertainty surrounding Jose Reyes as well as the vacancy at second base, acquiring Hamilton would give the Mets a feeling of security as far as their middle infield goes. Along with top prospect Wilmer Flores, the Mets could be looking at a solid middle of the infield for years to come.
For the Reds, it’s simple. They’re a young team on the rise, but acquiring a power bat such as Beltran’s would prove to be deadly in an already formidable lineup featuring reigning NL MVP Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, Jay Bruce and Scott Rolen. Expect the Reds to make a move for Beltran come the trade deadline if they intend to repeat as division champs and approach the next phase of their resurgence.