St. Louis Cardinals: Should Carlos Beltran Return to the Redbirds?

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Aug 12, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas Rangers designated hitter Carlos Beltran (36) celebrates hitting a home run against the Detroit Tigers during the fifth inning at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 12, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas Rangers designated hitter Carlos Beltran (36) celebrates hitting a home run against the Detroit Tigers during the fifth inning at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /
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As the St. Louis Cardinals continue their search for an outfielder to replace Matt Holliday, a familiar name presents itself on the free-agent market. Former Cardinal, Carlos Beltran, could be an option for John Mozeliak this winter.

The St. Louis Cardinals have made it their mission this winter to acquire an outfielder while Matt Holliday and Brandon Moss explore free agency. Randal Grichuk has been part of numerous discussions and general manager John Mozeliak has stated that he would be moved to left field if the Cards can find a center fielder. But Mo also stated that he isn’t counting out any corner outfielders.

Currently, the free agent market is at a stand still and players like Dexter Fowler, Yoenis Cespedes, Ian Desmond and Carlos Gomez are all biding their time until the best offers come in. Fowler isn’t the right choice for the Cardinals; Cespedes is likely out of Mozeliak’s price range (unfortunately); Gomez is a bit of a risk; and Desmond doesn’t play good defense. Not to mention, all but Gomez have a qualifying offer attached to them.

So if Mozeliak and the Cardinals are uninterested in losing draft picks and entering bidding wars, they must look elsewhere. Carlos Beltran could be someone the St. Louis Cardinals consider at a cheaper price that won’t cost them any draft picks. Yes, he is almost 40-years old but the guy can still hit and proved that in the 2016 season.

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Beltran batted .295/.337/.471 with 29 home runs and 93 RBI. He split time during the 2016 season between the New York Yankees (99 games) and the Texas Rangers (52 games). The 39-year old switch hitter not only put together a near-full season with 151 games played, but he also batted like he was 29-years old.

Beltran would also be welcomed back by Cardinal Nation fans and the players who played along side of him. He played for the Cardinals during the 2012 and 2013 seasons and did extremely well, making the All-Star team both years. He played 296 games in total as a Cardinal and slashed .282/.343/.493 with 56 homers and 181 RBI.

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Obviously, Beltran would not be signed to play center field for the Redbirds. He would slide in the left field corner while Grichuk remains in center, which may be the best move for the Cards. But, Beltran isn’t a great defender. He played 512 innings in right field during the 2016 season and posted a minus-6 defensive runs saved and a minus-0.3 ultimate zone rating. In left field however, he should be less of a defensive liability and his UZR may end up being average.

Another big reason for considering Carlos Beltran, is because Harrison Bader is almost ready to join the big-league club. Bader has primarily played center field and looks to be a major contributor at the MLB level. If Beltran is signed for one year, then the #3 organizational prospect would have 2017 to take the final developmental step and be ready for 2018. Meanwhile, signing someone else to a multi-year contract could end up blocking the future star.

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So what about Carlos Beltran? He still has one of the most beautiful swings in all of baseball and he very obviously has a lot of game left in him. He could play left field, keeping Grichuk in center and Stephen Piscotty in right while also allowing Bader the necessary time to get MLB-ready. He also will be relatively cheap, keeping the payroll low for other moves made by Mozeliak. Beltran looked good with the birds on the bat on his chest before…could he look even better now?

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