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Carlos Beltran’s market is down to 4 teams

Friday’s Say Hey, Baseball includes a robust Beltran market and a trade between the Mariners and Diamondbacks.

Division Series - Toronto Blue Jays v Texas Rangers - Game Two Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images

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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.