MLB Trade Deadline: Did Philadelphia Phillies Lose Big in Carlos Beltran Deal?

Asher ChanceySenior Analyst IJuly 28, 2011

CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 26: Carlos Beltran #15 of the New York Mets looks on before the game against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on July 26, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

I still remember rather vividly the day in August of 2010 when the San Francisco Giants picked up Cody Ross off of waivers from the Florida Marlins. My reaction to that deal was not a nuanced one.

I believe I chuckled, ever so slightly, and assured myself that if the Giants are in the market for the likes of Cody Ross, then the Phillies did not have a whole lot to worry about coming down the stretch and moving into the playoffs. At least not from the Giants.

Of course, Phillies fans all remember what happened last October. After obliterating the Cincinnati Reds in the National League Divisional Series, the Phillies' "Hunt for Red October" came to a premature end care of Ross's blazing hot bat and the capable pitching of the Giants young staff.

There really is no cautionary tale to be taken from the Ross deal. Never in anyone's wildest dreams, including his own, could we have imagined Ross would become the next great postseason hero, and even in hindsight the Phillies should not feel scooped by the Giants for snagging Ross when the Phillies could have had them for their own use.

I am not so sure we can say the same about Carlos Beltran.

Numerous sources are reporting that the Giants have agreed to a deal with the New York Mets that will send Beltran to San Francisco in exchange for pitcher Zack Wheeler, the Giants No. 1 pick in the 2009 draft.

Wheeler is a 6'3" right-hander currently in High-A ball. He is a flame-thrower, though at this early stage in his career he is also a touch wild, but he still projects well and is on a steady pace in his first two seasons of pro ball.

The trade brings to an end a disappointing six-and-a-half year tenure in New York for Beltran, during which the Mets came tantalizingly close to the World Series in 2006 before enduring one of the worst collapses in baseball history in 2007 (at the hands of the Phillies) and then becoming mired in medocrity for the balance of his time in New York.

Nevertheless, while Beltran had scattered success with the Mets, and struggled with injuries last season, in 2011 he has enjoyed an absolute resurgence. Beltran currently leads the NL with a shocking 30 doubles (out of 102 total hits) and is arguably having his best season in five years.

Unless something goes horribly wrong, Beltran absolutely upgrades the Giants right away. And he would have absolutely upgraded the Phillies as well.

There are two points to the Beltran deal that are somewhat surprising from the Phillies' perspective.

First of all, the conventional thought surrounding rumors of a deal sending Beltran to the Phillies seemed to imply that Vance Worley or Domonic Brown would have had to have been in the mix. But the Mets are not getting anything in the order of a Worley or a Brown for Beltran; Zack Wheeler has yet to throw a pitch above the High-A level, and probably will not for at least another year.

At this point, the Phillies must be wondering: could Beltran have been had in exchange for Jesse Biddle? Or Phillippe Aumont? Or Trevor May?

Secondly, the other sticking point for a possible Beltran deal, or any deal involving the Phillies, was thought to be salary, as the Phillies' ownership is showing reluctance to have to pay any luxury tax. But the Mets have reportedly agreed to pay most of Beltran's remaining salary as part of the deal for Wheeler.

In essence, all the Mets are doing is ensuring that they will get something in return for Beltran before he becomes a free agent this offseason.

So, the question becomes: Could the Philadelphia Phillies have had Carlos Beltran in exchange for one of their young pitching prospects without having to take on the remainder of Beltran's salary?

If the answer is yes, then this could potentially be a pivotal moment in the Phillies' season.

Because if Cody Ross could become an unlikely postseason hero for the Giants against the Phillies in the postseason last year, then Carlos Beltran absolutely has the potential to be that person for the Giants this season.

And this time, no one is chuckling.