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The nonwaiver trade deadline is four days hence, and whichever laundry will adorn Carlos Beltran for the duration of the season is still anybody's guess. The Giants, Phillies, Braves, Red Sox, and Rangers are the teams most frequently mentioned as possible suitors, but none apparently wants to give up a future superstar to land Beltran for two months with the promise of no draft pick compensation at year's end.
There are three realistic scenarios that can be reasonably mapped onto the remainder of 2011. Here they are in decreasing order of personal preference.
CARLOS BELTRAN IS TRADED FOR A TOP PROSPECT
If the Mets are offered a Top 50 prospect (i.e., one of the two or so best players in another team's minor league system) they really can't refuse it. They'll have to assume the $5+ million left on Beltran's contract, but in exchange they'd be receiving a so-called difference-maker who could probably help the big league Mets in the next year or two. I'm not really an expert on other teams or their prospects, but names like Mike Minor and Domonic Brown have been tossed around, however carelessly, as guys in this category.
A couple of weeks ago, the Mets were said to be demanding a top prospect in exchange for Beltran. If the rumors are to be believed (and they rarely are), that stance has softened as the 31 July deadline nears and the Mets are now willing to accept a merely good prospect. We should be absolutely clear that the Mets are under no obligation or obvious finance-related mandate to ship Beltran out of town, so Sandy Alderson will doubtless put the brakes on any deal once his trading partners begin offering little more than organizational filler.
CARLOS BELTRAN REMAINS WITH THE METS
If the Mets can't persuade the Phillies or whomever to send over something of significant value, I have no qualms about hanging on to Beltran and watching one of the few best position players in franchise history (and might be the best player right now on the 2011 team if not for Jose Reyes) play out the season where he belongs. If Beltran is to leave at the end of the season — and that eventuality seems at least as likely as not — I will gladly soak up as much Beltran-ity goodness as I can.
At some point in the last year I realized that Beltran had overtaken John Olerud as my favorite Met ever, which esteemed title is owed as much to his grace and sheer awesomeness as it is to the average Mets fan's obliviousness to same. If the choice is between a mid-level prospect and watching Carlos Beltran for the next two months, it's a no-brainer for me.
CARLOS BELTRAN IS TRADED FOR A MID-LEVEL PROSPECT
If the top-shelf talent is off the table and the Mets are adamant about getting something — anything — for Beltran before he flees this offseason, they'll have to settle for lower-ceiling prospects or high-risk, high-reward types who might reasonably help the Mets in a supporting role in the future but aren't likely to have the impact of more sought-after players. Dillon Gee is that type of player. Lucas Duda, too, probably, so we're not talking about organizational dregs by any means. The names won't be terribly sexy, but they're far better than nothing, and who knows? Maybe the Mets' Spreadsheet Squad can unearth some under-the-radar talent that could make a big difference after all.
Comment starter: How would you rank these three scenarios in order from most to least desirable, from a personal (as opposed to organizational) perspective?