New York Yankees outfielder Carlos Beltran could be an appealing trade target for many American League clubs as the MLB trade deadline approaches.
While the New York Yankees managed to avoid entering the All Star break below .500, they still have six teams in front of them for the second Wild Card spot and have just a 7.9% chance of making the playoffs according to Fangraphs. Those odds are just too slim for the Yankees to not sell at the upcoming trade deadline, especially in what is shaping up to be an extreme buyers’ market.
Carlos Beltran would be one of the Yankees prime trade chips if they decide to move him because of his expiring contract and strong first half performance. He’s hitting .299/.338/.550 (132 wRC+) with 19 home runs at the break and has already been worth 1.6 wins above replacement (fWAR).
Joel Sherman of the New York Post recently argued that despite reports, the Yankees are likely to hold onto Beltran for the second half. He points out that the club’s ownership is hesitant to sell, and that Beltran’s market is largely limited to American League clubs because of his truly awful defense.
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Sherman also points out that there are a number of other similar outfield/DH types who are likely to be available at the trade deadline. He names Jay Bruce, Carlos Gonzalez, Matt Kemp, Melvin Upton Jr., Ryan Braun, Yasiel Puig, and Josh Reddick as possibilities to be moved.
While there is certainly a chance all of those guys could be had, Braun and Kemp are owed huge sums of money, Puig plays for the contending Dodgers, and the Rockies have declined to trade Gonzalez for several years now (even though they should). That leaves Bruce and Upton as the best available outfielders, and Beltran seems like a clear upgrade over that pair this season, bad defense and all.
The Dodgers, Giants, and Nationals are not terrible fits for Beltran in the National League given their thin outfields, but it does seem like Beltran is much more likely to land with an American League club given how much more valuable he would be to a club that could play him at DH. That said, here are the team’s who make the most sense as trade partners for the Yankees.
Kansas City Royals- This may be the best fit. The defending champs are getting nothing from Kendrys Morales at DH, and the nostalgia factor of Beltran returning to his original club would definitely sell some tickets down the stretch.
Cleveland Indians- Jose Ramirez, Tyler Naquin, Rajai Davis, and Lonnie Chisenhall have frankly been miraculously good in the Cleveland’s outfield, but do the Indians want to cross their fingers and pray for the magic to continue in the second half? Beltran would go a long way towards taking some of the pressure off of their killer starting rotation.
Chicago White Sox- They signed Justin Morneau to fill their DH void, but the 35-year-old Canadian has not been wracked by injuries for several years now, and there’s no real reason to think he’ll be able to play everyday going forward. The White Sox aren’t all that far ahead of the Yankees in the standings, but they may be more committed to winning now.
Houston Astros- They’ve recovered from their slow start and once again look like the American League’s best clubs. Coincidentally, DH is one of the only weak points in their lineup, where Evan Gattis has been just OK.
Texas Rangers- At some point the Rangers will have to stop trotting Prince Fielder out there every day, right? He’s hitting .216/.296/.343 (65 wRC+) in 358 PA, with negative baserunning and defensive value, making him a well-below replacement level player. Yes, he’s still owed a ton of money, but they are actively hurting their team by giving him so much playing time.