MLB Trade Speculation: Could Carlos Beltran Land with Chicago Cubs?

Bob WarjaSenior Writer IMay 13, 2011

DENVER, CO - MAY 12:  Carlos Beltran #15 of the New York Mets watches his third home run of the game off of Matt Lindstrom of the Colorado Rockies in the ninth inning at Coors Field on May 12, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. Beltran had three homeruns and six RBI's as the Mets defeated the Rockies 9-5.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

The Carlos Beltran rumors are flowing everywhere these days it seems. These rumors have only gotten stronger following his three-homer outburst Thursday night.

Meanwhile, the speculation is flying that Beltran may wind up with a team that has big pockets. To that, I say, why not the Cubs?

As ESPN's Buster Olney points out, "Beltran, who's eligible for free agency in the fall, is making a whopping $18.5 million this year, and it will be interesting to see how his salary plays into other teams' pursuit of him."

That means that any team that acquires Beltran as a summer rental will be on the hook for about $9 million if the Mets don't pick up any of his salary.

Therefore, teams who may be surprising contenders this season, like the Indians and even the Pirates (in a weak division), need not apply.

Ah, but the Cubs know that plenty of money will be coming off the books after this season, so Tom Ricketts may give GM Jim Hendry the green light to "go for it" and give the team the edge it needs to capture a division that seems to be there for the taking.

Look, I realize that the money may be better suited to add pitching. But Beltran is a unique situation.

He will be a free agent following the season, so there is no long-term obligation here. And, if you can't out-pitch 'em, out-slug 'em.

Heaven knows the Cubs need power, as only Alfonso Soriano and the recently resurgent Carlos Pena have been any kind of a power threat so far.

Now, I know what you may be thinking: where would the Cubs put Beltran? After all, Soriano is not going anywhere, Marlon Byrd is in center and they already have two right fielders.

To this I respond with: 1) We all know that Kosuke Fukudome will soon be doing his annual disappearing act; and, 2) there has already been discussion about Tyler Colvin going back to the minors to get regular playing time.

And look, even if you still believe that Colvin is a future full-time regular starter (I don't and never have), obtaining Beltran won't mess with that, as he will be off to the highest bidder after the season.

Therefore, you plug Beltran in right field, and take his power and hope that the push of a new contract will motivate him to have a great season. After all, the main question has always been his health.

For when healthy, Beltran can still play. He is hitting .295 with eight homers, a .387 on-base percentage and a .590 slugging percentage.

So, assuming that we all agree, what will it take to get him?

The Mets will likely be looking for little more than salary relief and a couple of "B" or even "C" level prospects. Think Josh Vitters, Reggie Golden and Marquez Smith — players in that mold.

But even if the Cubs have to throw in a Trey McNutt, perhaps they do it because after all, you only get so many chances to be "all in," right?

Meanwhile, it would add some excitement in an otherwise very dull season for the Cubs.