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Carlos Beltran will be 40 years old in 2017, but he might also still be pretty good at that whole baseball thing. He hit .295/.337/.513 for a 122 OPS+ in 2016, racking up 593 plate appearances in the process. He’s one of only 63 players ever to play enough to qualify for the batting title at 39, and his OPS+ ranks 19th among them, surrounded by some all-time greats like Frank Thomas and Chipper Jones, Tris Speaker, and also Jeff Kent somehow. He might not necessarily do it again at 40, but he’ll only be looking for a one-year deal, and as he was traded mid-season, didn’t receive a qualifying offer. It’s no surprise that the Yankees and Rangers want him back, the Astros would love a reunion, and the Red Sox would like him to be a one-year replacement for the retired David Ortiz.
Those are the four teams in Beltran’s market, as his pool has narrowed in a hurry. The Yankees are the ones who traded Beltran to the Rangers in the first place, and still had a need for him but also knew that moving valuable parts was the most important thing for them in 2016. The Astros just signed Josh Reddick and traded for Brian McCann, and reuniting with Beltran — who they acquired way back in 2004 during his peak — would help them as they try to improve on 2016’s lineup. The Red Sox cannot replace Ortiz, not with one player — Ortiz just beat out Willie Mays’ age-40 season for the greatest age-40 season ever, and led the AL in slugging at .620 while doing it — but a one-year deal for Beltran is a great way for them to hold on until the next free agent market, or to avoid getting in on a long-term deal for Edwin Encarnacion.
Will Beltran disappoint his new team? It’s pretty likely, given his second-half slowdown where his OPS+ dropped to 102 for the Rangers — it’s not like he’ll be less fatigued at 40 than he was at 39. Still, though, if he’s managed a bit better, given a few more days off, or used exclusively as as a designated hitter so he can rest his legs more effectively throughout the season, then he might have one more year of greatness left in him. On a deal that will reportedly look something like the qualifying offer he wasn’t eligible for, that’s a risk worth taking for any of these four teams.
- The Mariners traded Taijuan Walker and Ketel Marte to the Diamondbacks for Jean Segura, in the hopes Segura can continue his 2016 breakout up north.
- The D-Backs, on the other hand, are hoping to be the team that finally turns Walker’s potential into results.
- The directions they could take with Segura are just one reason that Grant Brisbee believes Arizona has one of the most compelling rosters out there. Will they keep trading? Will they look to build on this move for 2017?
- DJ Lemahieu had a career year in 2016, but what can the Rockies expect from him next summer?
- The Royals might already be set for 2017. Do they stand a chance if that’s the case?
- The Red Sox have an abundance of right-handed hitters, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they need to go out and get a lefty.
- Jose Ramirez’s breakout had a lot to do with the Indians’ successful season, and it wasn’t a fluke.
- As Neil deMause writes, Donald Trump’s tax plan could give governors incentive to rebrand new stadiums as "infrastructure." Hope you like your tax money going toward brand new ballparks that will never pay back the city they’re built in!