During the last off-season, the Yankees made an offer to two of the top free agent right fielders, Carlos Beltran and Shin-Soo Choo. They offered Choo $140 million over seven years and Beltran was offered three years for $45 million. First one to accept the contract wins. Choo was reportedly the number one choice for the Bombers, but Choo wanted even more money than the Yankees were offering. He would eventually sign with the Texas Rangers for $130 million for seven years. That left the Yankees with the 37-year-old former Met, Carlos Beltran.
Beltran had shown increased durability and production in his two years in St. Louis before coming to the Yankees, making the National League All-Star team both years. He also showed the capability to play the outfield again after chronic knee issues limited his ability toward the end of his run with the Mets. However, there is no argument that he would be in the twilight of his career to begin the contract with the Yankees and his career would most likely be over at the end of the contract. Unless, of course, it ended sooner.
Choo’s price eventually came back to earth and he ended up signing for about $10 million less than the Yankees offered. Choo currently leads the American League with a .435 on-base percentage to go along with his .311 average, four home runs and twelve RBI. He has been banged up a bit this season that has resulted in some extra DH duties, but has played a solid outfield in the 29 games he has spent there this season.
Beltran is currently on the DL with a bone spur in his elbow. He has received two cortisone shots and surgery is looming if the elbow doesn’t respond. He has been lackluster both in the field and at the plate. He average is sitting at .234 with five home runs and fifteen RBI. In the outfield, Beltran has looked slow and disinterested at times. With elbow surgery on the horizon that could put Beltran on the shelf for two months, we may have seen the best Beltran will be able to offer in pinstripes. And with two more years remaining at $15 million a pop, his contract could turn into an albatross fast.
Of course, things may change, but as of right now it seems GM Brian Cashman made a tactical error in forcing Choo and Beltran into a quick take it or leave it decision. Choo’s price tag fell and he might have ended up accepting the Yankees’ offer had he been able to mull over the offer for more than 48 hours. It’s also a bit curious as to why there was urgency at all. By this point in the off-season, the Yankees had already signed Jacoby Ellsbury and seemingly had four major league outfielders in Ellsbury, Brett Gardner, Ichiro Suzuki, and Alfonso Soriano and another ready to go in Triple-A in Zoilo Almonte. The seemingly only factor that necessitated quick action was turning the page from Robinson Cano signing with the Mariners. Which, of course, is a silly reason to sign the wrong outfielder.