Sifting through the Carlos Beltran rumors

Dilip Vishwanat

Robinson Cano doesn't fit on a lot of teams. Even if there are 30 teams that think it's a good idea to give a 10-year mega-deal to a 31-year-old second baseman, not many of those 30 teams can come close to affording the mega-deal.

By my count, Carlos Beltran fits on 25 or 26 different teams. He can play left field or right, and there are just a handful of teams (Braves, Dodgers, Angels, Nationals) that wouldn't know what to do with Beltran. Almost everyone else has room for a productive, switch-hitting outfielder with power who's okay with a short-term deal.

Beltran is almost the perfect free agent. If you're looking for negatives, there's the age (37) and the draft pick he'll cost. But if a team is looking for short-term reward without the long-term risk, there isn't another hitter who comes close. That's before you even get into the history of Beltran as a free agent, where he's been a relative bargain at every stop. He was worth the monster deal with the Mets. He was worth the two-year deal with the Cardinals. He'll probably be worth the two-year deal he gets from his new team.

I wish Beltran would answer my letters. I wish he'd let me buy him one sandwich and just talk for a bit. I wish he'd sign my velvet painting of him. Oh, Carlos Beltran.

So, yeah, he fits just about everywhere. We just have to figure out exactly where he'll go. Should be easy.

The favorites

The short-term possibilities for Beltran are attractive for a lot of teams, but they absolutely thrill the Yankees, who need to balance an aging win-now team with a desire to get under the luxury-tax threshold and stay there. Mark Feinsand used the term "perfect fit" to describe Beltran and the Yankees:

The Yankees prefer the eight-time All-Star to fellow free-agent outfielders Shin-Soo Choo, Nelson Cruz and Jacoby Ellsbury, the source said, believing he’s the perfect fit to bolster their lineup. Likewise, Beltran has let it be known to those around him that the Yankees are his top choice, hoping to finally land himself in pinstripes after previous free-agent flirtations during the past decade did not work out.

Beltran's enjoyed the nine-figure contract. He's had record-breaking playoff success. But he's never won a World Series, so in a land of comparable two- or three-year deals, the contender would have something of an edge, I'd wager.

If not the Yankees, then the Rangers, Tigers, or Red Sox would make sense for Beltran. But the Yankees have already given up a first-round pick to sign Brian McCann, so they'll probably be the most willing and aggressive.

The ideal

You have a romantic side. And this speaks to you:

"I think it would be a great story if it happens for me to go back (to the Royals)," Beltran said Wednesday from his native Puerto Rico.

The Royals spent last offseason in a manic search for pitching, pitching, pitching, thinking their young offense would do good things. The lineup was pretty bad, though, at least relative to expectations. For next season, the Royals are looking at a right-field arrangement of David Lough and Justin Maxwell, which seems like it has a .02-percent chance of succeeding.

There is the minor question of just how close the Royals are to being serious contenders. Close enough, I'd reckon, to give up a #19 pick for Beltran without blinking. It's not like they were going to do anything with that pick anyway. Might as well let the Cardinals have it, seeing as that's the exact pick with which they drafted Michael Wacha and Shelby Miller.

The linked article talks about Beltran going into Cooperstown as a Royal. Have to admit, I never thought about that question. Figured everyone assumed he was going in as a Giant, but I guess the Mets have a pretty good claim, too. A couple more good seasons with the Royals, though, and there's no question.

That's worth ... something. Maybe not much. But something.

Prediction

Yankees. Three years, $42 million. The romantic reunion with the Royals (and the glorious 79-win season they're probably about to enjoy) can melt frozen hearts, but the Yankees need Beltran more than other teams. The short-term deal and the lack of good options make the Yankees give that third year.

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