With just nine days left until Opening Day, Carlos Beltran has only appeared in one game as a DH and has had only three at-bats. At this point, it is getting very hard to believe that he will start the season anywhere other than the disabled list.
Earlier this week there was news that Beltran participated in limited batting practice, but he rarely swung at any pitches. In addition, he participated in some outfield drills. It has also been reported that when Beltran plays in a minor league game he will have a pinch runner when he gets on base. This means that he is not yet at full speed.
It is becoming clear that Beltran will not be on the Opening Day roster. If the Mets keep him in minor league games during the rest of the spring they can backdate his DL-stint so that he can come back sooner. The question is what can the Mets expect from Beltran once he is able to play?
For the first four years of his contract with the Mets, Beltran put up great numbers. However, since 2009 he has had an injury bug. Over the past two years he played just 145 games. However, he did hit 17 home runs and batted .295 over that span. Could that be what the Mets can expect from Beltran this year? Those numbers certainly don’t justify the $18.5 million that Beltran is owed for this year.
It is possible that Beltran will not play on a daily basis for at least a month. The move to right field should help Beltran stay healthier since he does not need to cover as much ground as he did in center.
Assuming that Beltran stays healthy, it is possible that he plays in as many as 135 games this season. If that does happen, it is reasonable to expect that Beltran could put up a line close to .280/.365/.490. The Mets could also see Beltran hit between 20 and 25 home runs and drive in 80 to 95 runners. Beltran will likely see his stolen base numbers drop to less than 10 in an attempt to keep his knee healthy. This would be the best-case scenario.
A possible worst case scenario would be that for the third year in a row Beltran struggles to remain healthy. He is only able to appear in 70 to 80 games. In this limited playing time Beltran posts a triple slash line of .260/.335/.440. He is only able to hit 8 to ten home runs and he does not drive in more than 45 runners. This is also a plausible outcome for Beltran’s season.
If Beltran is able to stay healthy this year and the Mets struggle then the team could trade him away to a contender and bring back a solid prospect or two that can help them in the future. If the Mets are still in contention, they can hold on to Beltran to help them make a playoff run.
The fact of the matter is that Beltran could be the key to the Mets season. If he is healthy, the Mets could be a playoff team. If not, the Mets could suffer through a long season yet again.