The Giants have reportedly traded their top pitching prospect Zack Wheeler straight up for Carlos Beltran and $4M toward the remaining $6.5 of Beltran’s of 2011 salary. Wheeler is a heavy price to pay, but not heavy enough for Beltran, who has generally been regarded as the best position player available in the NL as this year’s trade deadline approaches.
I’m still kind of expecting to hear that the Mets will also get a player to be named later, most likely a choice from among several of the Giants’ second-tier pitching prospects. Pitching prospects have a bad habit of getting hurt and never amounting to anything. You have to get at least a couple when you’re sending away a Carlos Beltran.
Wheeler is certainly a fine prospect — sixth pick of the 2009 draft, great arm and so forth. The thing is he’s still in A+ ball, and based on his year and a half of minor league numbers, I don’t think he’s going to ready until 2014, unless his command gets a whole lot better really fast. That’s a lot of time for him to get hurt before he even reaches the majors.
Meanwhile, the Giants get as close to a sure thing as they’re reasonably likely to get, and they desperately need an outfielder, any outfielder, who can really hit. No matter what happens, the Giants can offer Beltran arbitration after the season and get two top 50 draft picks when someone else signs him to his multi-year deal.
In fact, the worst thing that can happen in terms of the Giants’ long-term future is that Beltran plays great the last two months of the season, and the Giants give another big, multi-contract to a guy who’s almost certainly going into the decline phase of his career.
Of course, that would mean that the Giants got a great two months out of Beltran and went deep into the post-season. Besides, Beltran is no Randy Wynn. If Beltran has a great 2011, his track record suggests he’d be at least a reasonably good bet to have a fine 2012.
The speculation now is who gets cut to make room for Beltran on the Giants’ roster. Pat Burrell was the first name thrown out that I saw, but the SF Chronicle’s Henry Schulman has already tweeted that it won’t be Burrell.
It makes more sense to me that the Giants would finally bite the bullet (another gun analogy) and dump Aaron Rowand and whatever remains on his big contract. Pat the Bat still has more value as a right-handed bat off the bench, and the Giants have no need for a third centerfielder (fourth, if you count Cody Ross, who can play center in a pinch).
Unloading Rowand and swallowing the last year plus of his contract definitely makes the most sense for a team trying to win it all again this year.