Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Future of Carlos Beltran

Scott Kane-USA TODAY Sports

Carlos Beltran has given the St. Louis Cardinals two phenomenal seasons. He’s hit .288 with 55 home runs and 167 RBIs. After a couple of seasons struggling with injuries, he’s bounced back and carried the Cardinals with him. Because of his phenomenal performance, there has been a recent (and well-warranted) desire to keep him around for another year or two.

That said, there’s a pretty good argument for not resigning him in the off-season, and I want to outline it today. As a point, I love Carlos. I love watching him play. He’s a beast, and I would love to keep him around, but at the same time I think that it’s important to examine this pragmatically.

The original idea was that Oscar Taveras would get a September call-up this year and we’d discover that he was even better than Beltran, so he’d take over in 2014. Since that’s not going to happen, there’s been a little bit of panic.

The most compelling argument is that he won’t be cheap. After putting up impressive numbers, there will be a pretty big market for a right fielder like Beltran (especially in the AL, where he could convert to a switch hitting DH should his knees fail him once and for all). Designated hitters with similar numbers are making about 15 million a year. I’d say that the Cardinals have had him at a bargain price for 13 million a season due to his prior injury trouble. Now that he seems healthy and happy, many contenders should be interested in him.

Should the Cardinals resign him, they would have significantly less money to go after a shortstop or a center fielder. Because the Cardinals lack obvious and immediate choices for these positions in their farm system, the free agent market seems to be the way to go, and with players such as Jacoby Ellsbury (my personal off-season pipe dream, although I wouldn’t pay as much as he’ll want) and Shin-Soo Choo on the market, a little extra money wouldn’t hurt anything.

In addition, Carlos has had injury problems in the past, and he is 36 years old. Perhaps he has 2 or 3 more great seasons left in him, but I doubt that they will be worth 10 to 15 million dollars a piece. If St. Louis could sign him for 2 years and 10 million dollars, I’d have a very different opinion, but I don’t think that’s going to a possibility.

Additionally — and I know that this will be a shock — the Cardinals don’t need a right fielder. With Allen Craig capable of playing there and Matt Adams deserving at least a shot as a starter, the Cardinals are set at right field. And, although Taveras will not be coming up this year, that doesn’t rule him at as a viable candidate next year. Perhaps he’ll impress us all and wind up as a starter, but he certainly will serve as a solid bat off of the bench.

Again, I don’t want to run Beltran out of town or suggest that I don’t love him as much as the next guy, and I am admittedly a bit wary of letting a proven veteran go in hopes that rookies will perform well. Nonetheless, I doubt that St. Louis will be able to afford Carlos, and I don’t think they need to sell the farm in an attempt to keep him around.

Certainly, as Mozeliak has said, it remains an option worth looking into, but I would be inclined to shop around some in order to fill more pressing needs before signing Carlos to a large, multi-year deal.

As per usual, I am not the Cardinals’ GM, and I don’t get to make such decisions, but I do think that it would be unwise to ignore the possibility of letting Beltran walk.

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Tags: Carlos Beltran St Louis Cardinals

  • jonjayfan

    Good article except for getting a center fielder- Jay is our present and future but we can talk about that another time. Adams is better at first than Beltran in right on defense and at least as good on offence. Beltran is awful in late inning pressure situations and I don’t trust those knees of his. Don’t forget 0 RBI last 6 of nlcs last year. It’s nice to see someone else write that we shouldn’t sign Beltran after this year

    • Ovadia

      I’ll write an article about the Cardinals and where we need upgrades in the future and we can argue about Jay then. Just to make it clear, I really like the guy a lot, and if he just had better range or a better arm I could be easily persuaded to leave him in center, but I think he’s one of the weakest links in the lineup (after SS), which is saying something.

      As for Beltran, I absolutely agree. Adams gets better everyday defensively and the Cardinals should give Beltran a standing ovation when he leaves, but they should let him leave.

      • jonjayfan

        I would love to read that article. Even though you and I both agree beltran should go next year no one would say he is our weakest link this year. And since compared to Beltran, Jay is better in the field, has higher obp, much higher late in pressure average and obp, has driven in more inherrited runners (rbi minus homeruns), more sac bunts, more sac flies, more hit by pitch, played in more games, played in more innings and on and on… will interesting to see how you make a case for him being our weakest link.