Analysis

Free Agent Pass or Play: Carlos Beltran

Each day until free agency begins, we at Phillies Nation will take a look at a player who will become a free agent five days from the conclusion of the World Series. We will explore potential performance, fit, cost, and feasibility. We continue today with switch-hitting outfielder Carlos Beltran. And a reminder: you can check out all the “Pass or Play” posts by clicking on the category hyperlink.

Performance

Beltran signed a two-year deal with the Cardinals after a bounce-back 2011 where he hit .300/.385/.525 with 22 HRs. Then 34, Beltran was considered a great injury risk having played in only 81 and 64 games respectively in 2009 and 2010, but managed to land $26 million.

According to FanGraphs, Beltran slightly under-performed the $26 million value over 2012 and 2013 ($25.1 million of value) but drastically over-performed most expectations with a combined .282/.343/.493 in 1219 PA. Beltran was a key contributor to a pair of Cardinals teams that won three playoff series in two years, including an NL pennant.

Beltran has been Steady Eddie since attaining full health in 2011 but did have a career-low walk-rate and a career low two steals in 2013. Beltran is still an above-average hitter for average and power and also still has a great arm, as displayed in Game One of the NLCS when he threw out Mark Ellis at the plate. He likely no longer has the ability to steal double-digit bases and FanGraphs’ defensive metrics show a rapid drop off in performance, although, warnings about defensive metric volatility and all that apply.

Fit

The Phillies are obviously in need of at least one outfielder and they would prefer that player to be right-handed. As a switch hitter, Beltran has hit .286/.356/.530 as a righty against lefties in his career but hit only .252/.281/.448 last year in the same situations, down from .276/.329/.538 in 2012. If the Phillies are looking for someone to mash lefties, Beltran’s rapid deterioration against lefties as a righty should make them pause, as should his declining fielding.

Cost

According to FanGraphs’ awesome crowd sourcing project, Beltran will likely get a contract of two years for about $12 million to $13.5 million a year.

Feasibility

This one is tough – my instincts tell me Beltran, as a career .333/.445/.683 postseason hitter, would want to sign with a sure-fire contender. The Phillies don’t currently fit that bill. I’m not opposed to, however, putting veterans on one and two year deals in the outfield, particularly when they’re not blocking anyone with high upside. I don’t think Amaro will target Beltran specifically but I do think he could emerge as a fallback option if Amaro’s Plan A falls through.

Verdict: Play, But Tread Lightly

Beltran is pretty interesting. If the Phillies are able to nab a top five outfielder and still have a few million to spare, adding Beltran at that point would be worth it as an “all-in” move. If not, I don’t see Beltran as a good idea. He doesn’t add anything to the Phillies’ horrible defensive outfield and by the end of the second year, may not be much of an upgrade of what they already have.

14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. Ken Bland

    November 2, 2013 at 9:42 am

    The number of people that mention Carlos Beltran and the Phillies in the same breath is a sign of somewhere along the lines of forgetfulness that free agency is not a question of what kind of gun was held to the player’s head to get his x on a deal, and more evidence that there aren’t 30 plus clubs in business for the sake of, in this site’s case, the Phillies.

    In recent memory, we experienced pretty lunatical comments on the likes of Angel Sanchez, and Tim Lincecum. Some folk apparently live in the past more than they think the everpopular RAJ Jr. does.. Gone for now is the magical appeal, and winning probability/possibility of playing for the Phillies. Cliff Lee, Doc Halladay drooled at the possibity for what was THEN good reason. Odds are good that a player will not disregard geographic preference with a financial, or winning reason.

    While intimacy with players is reserved for family and special friends, there’s nothing wrong with guessing a player’s personal situation, but you do well to apply sense to taking a stab at where they will go. Marraige to the idea that a player will go to the highest bidder isn’t exactly fool’s thinking anymore, but not way far from it.

    Beltran, facts being what they are, is 37, and once again, a playoff victim of leaving the park ringless. As far back as 2010, when he was traded by the Mets, he was quoted as saying he wanted to play for a winner, topical because of his no trade clause. The boy still got a naked ring finger after all these marvelous seasons.

    And it’s hardly that there seems no reason to think playing for a winner is his only prereq. The ego of most money can’t be totally dismissed, but one does well to ask what, preytell is the connection to Philadelphia.

    Firstly, if he’s acclimated to the US, to where he’s considered fully American by now, he’s probably a New Yorker. His most secure years semed to be as a Met. He believably wanted to play for the Yankees at least once previously. Think the Yanks are going to make less effort than the Phils to rebuild their contender status this off season? Not a chance. And that doesn’t even include the possibility of staying a Cardinal, where, if he has been unhappy at all it’d be a shock.

    The Phils are at least an East Coast team. That gives them a sliver of a chance. But unless there are friends on the Phils, long lost relatives from anywhere from Marple Newtown to Kensington, and partnered with an overbid, Carlos will be wearing a visiting uni at the Bank one more time.

    You don’t just pluck free agent names out of the hat, and knock aside reality to the extent you are aware of it. The perception based on that combination is that there’s very, very little chance of Beltran Phillieing up. Mention of him as part of an off season strategy Plan A is pretty ridiculous.

  2. wbramh

    November 2, 2013 at 9:17 am

    Beltran is fine player and leader which is why the Cards will smartly resign him.
    Better to make the first FA move the acquisition of Ellsbury to upgrade CF.
    If I’m correct, the Marlins are in need of a 3rd baseman and pitching and catching prospects.
    Offer them Asche, Biddle, Revere and one of the young catchers for Stanton.
    I bet they’d take it.

    • Ken Bland

      November 2, 2013 at 9:53 am

      You only got 3 things wrong in your message.

      One, odds are steep that in saying the Cards will smartly reup with Beltran, you didn’t factor in their depth, or farm system. Neither signing him or letting him walk is necessarily smart. The Redbirds are in a position of large choice.

      Re the first FA move of signing Ellsbury, this isn’t fact, but Doug Melvin, despite a lack of a ring in forever offered this all time quote for the ages a few years back.

      Said Doug, “The only free agents who are overvalued are those that are signed early.”

      Asche, Biddle, Revere, and a young catcher for Stanton. You might actually be right on this one. After all, every time Asche gets a hit, he’s batting 1.000. Everytime Biddle strikes out 16, he wins. So that might be a more superior package than the Fish could get elsewhere in the market than I think. Have to chack my Hallmark and see when be kind to Ruben week is, and hope that some GM decides to honor the holiday.

  3. john

    November 2, 2013 at 10:34 am

    not interested in beltran, not interested in trading revere or ashe either. i like the stanton idea, but at what cost. i like the idea of a young team, if they can play, you have a contender for a few years.

    • wbramh

      November 2, 2013 at 5:44 pm

      My idea of trading Revere as part of the Stanton deal was predicated on first picking up Ellsbury in FA.
      Revere is not close to Ellsbury in any category. Revere is younger but we’ve seen his peak and he’s no Ellsbury. And Ellsbury still had the legs this year to lead the majors in steals. He actually gives the team more effective speed than Revere.

      Asche is one of the few obvious trading chips the team has without first picking up a replacement from outside the system because they likely already have a better player in Maikel Franco.The fish need a 3rd baseman and have no immediate help coming up in their system. Attractive to Miami and expendable for the Phila

      If I were to question my own “deal” for Stanton (and I do), moving Biddle in the deal would seem the riskiest piece but the Marlins are looking for young arms – and let’s face it, we know how many promising young arms fizzle before they even get to the bigs. The Phils burned through about 10 of them to maybe come up with one buried gem in Diekman. Even a Tanaka is no sure bet to star in this league.

      Stanton is not only a rising young star, he’s also taylor made for CBK.
      He’d be a giant fan favorite and if he stays healthy (his one Q-mark) he’ll drive in enough runs in CBP to rival the numbers put up by Howard in his best years.

      • Hogey's Role

        November 2, 2013 at 6:00 pm

        The marlins actually have Colin Moran at third base and they predict him to be ready by 2015 so they are really looking for a one year stop gap however they may be interested in asche and swap him to a different position

      • Hogey's Role

        November 2, 2013 at 7:08 pm

        I agree with you on all of that… The only reason I brought up Moran is because I just read on mlb trade rumors that the marlins plan on him being ready by 15….
        However I don’t wanna biddle for anyone at this point…

      • wbramh

        November 2, 2013 at 6:25 pm

        Moran is a good prospect and I know the Marlins are high on him but 2015 might be pushing it since he’s fresh out of UNC. But as you said, they could move Asche elsewhere if Moran is put on the fast track and up to the task.

        Sometimes I forget that other teams have success with 21-year-old rookies while the Phillies seem to bring them up at age 27 (mid career for many players). I hope Franco has a better fate.

      • schmenkman

        November 2, 2013 at 8:04 pm

        wbramh, are there any recent Phillies prospects who should have been in the majors at 21?

      • Hogey's Role

        November 2, 2013 at 7:08 pm

        Trade biddle**

  4. Lefty

    November 2, 2013 at 11:05 am

    If the team is convinced it can compete this season, a view which I am not certain I share, then I would advise the team make a strong play for Carlos Beltran on a two year deal.

    However, IMO- If they are smart, they will not sign any FA’s and start the rebuilding process in full in order to shorten the time it takes to become a viable contender again. We’ve seen two years of this garbage, that’s enough. It’s time to start thinking more about trading away valuable assets for younger ones and to develop a strong farm system once again. They don’t have to spend a fortune to come in 4th in the east. Look toward the future and hope for the best. We don’t need another year like the last two. Just one man’s opinion.

  5. Hogey's Role

    November 2, 2013 at 12:54 pm

    I like the trade for Stanton idea but me personally, I wouldn’t trade away biddle for anyone… I would rather trade for cespedes like I’ve said before, then try Hernandez in cf or if they weren’t comfortable with that go after Cruz or Beltran to play rf and shift cespedes to cf until Hernandez is ready or another of our young outfielders… Then I would sign ubaldo Jimenez for our number three spot and resign Roy halladay on an incentive laden one year deal to be a number four or five and have mag be the last spot with pettibone as the swing man and get rid of Kendrick which part of the seven million that we’ll save on him can go towards paying ubaldo….
    Our lineup could be
    Hernandez utley cespedes Howard brown Rollins Ruiz/rupp asche… And our rotation hamels lee Jimenez mag halladay

    • wbramh

      November 2, 2013 at 6:14 pm

      Cespedes would be a great option but I think there’s more chance of landing Stanton with what we’d have to offer either the As or the Marlins in return and doing the least amount of peripheral damage at other positions.
      I think there’s little chance that Halladay is going to be offered a one-year deal unless the Gonzalez deal turns out to be a bust before he suits up. Considering the medical alerts leading to changing contract numbers I wouldn’t totally rule that out.
      I’d definitely move Kendrick’s salary but I’m not sure the Jimenez’s and Arroyos out their buy the Phils much more for the price increase.Bronson is 37 and wants around 10 mil and Ubaldo is up in the 3-year 3 mil bracket. For that much money I’d rather splurge even more and take a shot at Tanaka (who you just know will end up playing for the Yankees).

      • Hogey's Role

        November 2, 2013 at 7:13 pm

        I would rather sign ubaldo and if not halladay than possibly garza…. Garza is attractive because he’s not tied to draft pick compensation so he won’t cost us anything… Than what I would do is include pettibone in the deal to get cespedes or Stanton… I believe cespedes is more attainable than Stanton however

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