A few stories have come out about Carlos Beltran, and his trade value with the New York Mets, detailed by MLB Trade Rumors here. Buster Olney reports that if the Mets pay down his salary, every interested team would be in play. Joel Sherman of the New York Post had this to say:
Beltran clearly is a better alternative since he can hit in the middle of any team’s lineup. But when outside executives were asked if they saw any teams willing to take on most to all of what is left on Beltran’s contract, the only two named consistently were the Giants and Tigers. But, again, the Mets could not then expect a significant prospect return.
Conversely, if they were willing to eat a large amount of dollars, then suddenly even payroll-challenged teams such as the Indians, Diamondbacks and Pirates would be in play. The big-payroll Red Sox, who desperately want a right-handed-hitting right fielder, are insisting they cannot spend significant dollars to get one. But if Beltran were paid down by the Mets, then Boston also enters the field. Also, if Beltran’s contract were paid down, the Phillies and Braves — who both have deep farm systems — almost certainly would be interested.
I would disagree with the idea that the Pirates couldn’t afford to take on the remainder of Beltran’s contract. The reports say that he is owed a little over $6 M for the remainder of the year. For the Pirates, this means that they end up with a payroll just under $53 M if they take on Beltran, all while giving up a Grade C pitcher to get him. They could reduce that total payroll if they managed to unload Lyle Overbay and the $1.65 M remaining on his deal in the final two months of the season.
It really depends on what the Mets decide to do. If they were willing to pay all of Beltran’s salary, they could get a top 76-100 pitcher for him, which is someone like Stetson Allie. If they paid just $3 M of his remaining salary, they could get a Grade B hitter, like a Starling Marte. Either price would be a lot for a two month rental who can’t be offered arbitration after the season, although that might be appealing to a team short on payroll space.
The Pirates have been linked to Josh Willingham, who would cost about $2.5 M for the remainder of the year. Beltran would only cost about $3.5 M more, and would be a massive upgrade. Both would be two month rentals, and the Pirates would be unlikely to receive compensation for either player. Neither option would fetch a huge return, prospect-wise. If the Mets decide that they just want to unload salary, like they did with Francisco Rodriguez, then I’d say the Pirates could definitely be players.