Before we get into the idea of Carlos Beltran as a potential offseason target for the Cleveland Indians, let’s all take a moment and exhale a collective sigh of relief that the Tribe did not trade for him at the deadline. Instead, they got Brandon Guyer. And he was awesome.
In no way did I want the Indians to send over prospects for half a season of Carlos Beltran’s 39-year-old legs working in the outfield. But dishing out some cash for a full season of him at DH? I could get behind that.
Beltran’s 2016 season was split between the New York Yankees and Texas Rangers. With the former, he slashed an excellent .304/.344/.546 with 22 home runs for a 135 wRC+. Once he was dealt the Ranger, however, his production slipped to being just barely above-average with a .280/.325/.451 slash in 52 games.
Steamer does not believe he is going to be the first-half Beltran in his year-40 season, unfortunately. It has him projected right around his second-half stats: .270/.324/.448, 20 home runs, 105 wRC+. But, similar to the idea of signing Matt Holliday, the goal would be to get near the power that the Indians got out of Mike Napoli in 2016, without the whole "striking out in one-third of his at-bats" thing.
Beltran has never been a guy who strikes out a ton. The highest strikeout rate of his career was 20 percent in 2012, but other than that one season he’s never had a rate over 19 percent — his career-average sits at a respectable 16.1 percent. He swings at roughly one-third of the pitches thrown out of the zone, and of those pitches he makes contact two-thirds of the time. So he is a hard batter to fool, even into his late-late-late-late-late-30s.
All of that is well and good, assuming the Indians keep him hidden as a designated hitter, but Beltran is probably not going to come cheap. MLB Trade Rumors has his deal estimated at one-year, $14 million, but both the Boston Red Sox and Yankees are rumored to be in on the veteran slugger. If those two are in a bidding war, I cannot imagine the Indians winning it.
But if, somehow, both teams fail to sign him — maybe they just look elsewhere — or if the bidding war was greatly exaggerated, I’d be all for the Indians taking a flier on Beltran for around $15 million. But would the front office?