MLB Trade Rumors: Will the New York Yankees Target Carlos Beltran?

James Stewart-Meudt@@JSMeudtCorrespondent IIMay 9, 2011

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 08:  Carlos Beltran #15 of the New York Mets hits a double in the bottom of the sixth inning against the Washington Nationals during the Mets' Home Opener at Citi Field on April 8, 2011 in the Flushing neighborhood of Queens in New York City.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

With every DL trip and every loss, the New York Mets inch closer and closer to their inevitable fire sale.

The Mets are essentially the redheaded stepchild of the New York Yankees.

No two teams are better contrasts than the Mets and Yankees. One is seeking World Title No. 28, while the other is looking to rank higher than 28th in attendance.

Despite their struggles, or because of them, the Mets may be a valuable asset for the Yankees.

With so much going wrong for the Mets, Carlos Beltran has been one of the few bright spots. Beltran had surgery on his right knee before the start of the 2010 season, reportedly without consulting with the Mets first.

Beltran played in just 64 games that season, batting .255 with seven home runs and 27 RBI.

At the start of spring training this year, one of the biggest questions was whether or not Beltran could still play center field. Beltran answered that question himself, volunteering to move over to right field.

It was nice to see Beltran, a player who had garnered a reputation for being self-centered and soft during his time in New York, put the team first. But in reality, the move was designed to keep Beltran healthy by reducing wear and tear on his knees and, by extension, boost his trade value.

Beltran is set to become a free agent after this season, and a healthy Beltran might be attractive to non-DH NL teams, rather than just DH jobs in the AL.

There were serious questions about how many games Beltran could actually play this season. He didn't get into a game in right field until the final week of spring training.

But so far this season, Beltran has impressed his doubters. Beltran is batting .295 with five home runs and 18 RBI.

But that's not the good part.

The good part is that Beltran has played almost every day so far. He got into yesterday's game against the Los Angeles Dodgers as a pinch hitter, snapping his streak of 21-straight starts.

As Joel Sherman of the NY Post notes, it was hard to expect Beltran to play in 21 games TOTAL this season, never mind 21-straight games by May 8.

When productive and, more importantly, durable, Beltran is much more valuable to a Mets team that will most certainly look to trade him this season.

Though the trade deadline is still a long way away and injuries happen (mostly to the Mets), who will be interested in Beltran if he continues to produce and play nearly every day?

It doesn't happen often, but the Mets and Yankees could discuss a deal that would send Beltran to the other side of the river and into pinstripes.

The switch-hitting Beltran has clubbed four of his five home runs batting right-handed, but his batting average is 86 points higher from the left side.

Beltran must be salivating when he looks at that short porch in right field at Yankee Stadium.

As Brett Gardner continues to struggle (.233 BA through today), the idea of Beltran playing left field against right-handed pitching should seem more attractive to the Yankees.

The Mets are in need of prospects badly enough that they'd be foolish not to listen should the Yankees come calling about Beltran.

Beltran would be due about $8 million at the trade deadline and the more of that the Mets are willing to pay, the better the package of prospects would be. The Mets have already paid both Luis Castillo and Oliver Perez to go away, proving they're not adverse to eating contracts.

But how willing is Mets general manager Sandy Alderson to pay Beltran to potentially help the Yankees to their 28th World Series title, only further burying the Mets in anonymity?

The Mets and Yankees don't trade with each other often, but it does happen. In all, there have been nine trades between the two teams, the last coming in 2001.

For the Yankees, Beltran could serve as a better offensive piece than Gardner, as well as a bat off the bench in pinch hit situations. Beltran needs to stay healthy and continue to play well before the Mets will consider trading Beltran.

But it is going to happen. If he can still play the field, NL teams become a possibility and the Mets can simply take the best package they can get.

If the Yankees are looking to add another bat this season, like they did last year with Lance Berkman, Beltran could finally come to the Bronx.


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