Last night Carlos Beltran returned from a “bone bruise,” on his knee in a rehab start for the Brooklyn Cyclones. I keep hearing, and reading people asking why he is even trying right now. My opinion, he is auditioning to prove he is healthy enough to garner attention on the trading market this winter in Indianapolis (site of the Winter Meetings).
Here’s the thing, at 32 years old, Beltran is still in my opinion the best all around center fielder in the game today. Sure, there are young guys coming through the ranks, but they aren’t at his level yet. Beltran turns 33 years old in April, and will make 18.5 million dollars in 2010 and in 2011. He has a full no trade clause which has to be taken into account here.
However, I can’t see what value he has to the Mets any more. His signing was done under the impression that from 2005-2009 (his prime), he’d be a key piece to a championship team right? Those days are gone. If the stories are true that the Mets wish to cut payroll, then why wouldn’t they start with Beltran? He’s not the face of this franchise, and he’s running out of time to win a championship, something the Mets likely are not in line to do over the remainder of his contract.
If he proves he is healthy, why wouldn’t he garner a lot of attention in the off-season? Furthermore, why wouldn’t he want to be dealt to a team like Boston, Los Angeles, Anaheim etc? The expectations for Beltran at Citi Field will be unfairly too high from the fan base. This is a team that needs to re-tool everything from the front office, to the farm system, to the on the field talent.
Beltran over the next two years is a good enough player to put a contender into a serious odds on favorite to get to the World Series. He also could be used to significantly either improve the MLB roster with younger players, or drastically improve the farm system. If he proves he is healthy enough, his value will never be higher than it is this off-season.
The value of having Beltran on the Mets was to bring a championship to New York. If we’re being honest, we recognize those days are long gone. The Mets had their chance, now they need to capitalize on Beltran’s value while it is still high and do the right thing not only for Beltran, but for the future of this franchise.