As one of his inaugural signings in an aim to rebuild the New York Mets, Omar Minaya went looking for a pristine outfield bat. The previous GM, Jim Duquette, took on a similar mission before the 2004 season, and his target was Vladimir Guerrero, the ex-Expo who's Hall of Fame destined. Guerrero surely would have been the face of the Mets franchise for years to come. However, Guerrero went and signed with the Anaheim Angels. In light of this error, Minya went out the following season and acquired Carlos Beltran. Having Beltran had its perks: He played a more valuable position and did so with grace and fantastic defensive ability, and he was by no means a slouch with the bat. Beltran also went out and had two of some of the best single seasons any Met has ever had, donning one of the biggest and most recognizable facial blemishes in team history. Despite a disappointing 2005, and one curveball, Carlos Beltran has been a fantastic investment.
Despite this, it seems Carlos may have overstayed his welcome. This isn't to say Mets fans universally hate him, but he has had his bouts with injury, has an expensive contract and needs a fresh start on a team that needs a corner outfielder. The question is, who will take him? At first glance, Carlos is by no means an attractive option. The Mets tried to dump him at the trade deadline to no success, and his numbers since his mid-season return have been mediocre at-best. So where does his value lie?
While things seem dismal, it appears obvious that Carlos will continue to be useful at the dish. Coming off of his injury he came to a slow start in July and August, but his .356 wOBA in September suggests that there is hope for his bat. His defense has slowed in centerfield, but there is little to suggest that he can't play an adequate corner outfield at the very least. There is still a lot to like here. On the downside, Beltran is owed $18.5 million, and any move would require the Mets to eat around half of it. Even then, they'll receive little of value in return.
In contrast to the rest of the outfield market, Beltran is actually a pretty good buy-low option for a contending team looking for role players to fill out the roster. Teams looking for outfielders this year include the Yankees, Red Sox, Angels, Dodgers, Rangers, Braves, Phillies, Reds, Twins and possibly even the Cardinals. Guaranteed outfield free agents on the market include Carl Crawford, Jayson Werth and little else. There are few outfielders to go around. Teams will be interested in cashing in on Beltran and potentially getting a 2.0-3.0 WAR season out of him and 2 first rounders. Especially when Crawford is on the Red Sox and Werth is on the Yankees.
What the Mets choose to do with the extra cash and the corner outfield spot is unclear. It's unlikely that they go after a big name like Werth or Crawford, especially with so many holes to fill and improvements to make. There is alleged interest in trading for Jacoby Ellsbury, and it is POSSIBLE that David DeJesus and/or Cody Ross hit the market, both of which could be useful additions. I don't see the Mets eating $10 million of Beltran's contract just to give out $6 million to a replacement... It would make more sense both financial and from a baseball standpoint to keep him around and milk him for what he's worth, and claim draft picks after, unless they can acquire a young, controllable replacement at the level of Ellsbury.