Seemingly every player in baseball has been put on the trade block this off-season, so it isn’t particularly surprising to see Carlos Beltran’s name thrown into the ring too. The most notable rumor has Beltran linked to the Boston Red Sox, with starting pitcher Daisuke “Dice-K” Matsuzaka coming to the Mets. Beltran, who due to his debilitating knee injuries, has seen his stock plummet more than Blockbuster’s during the digital age. With Angel Pagan, the better defender at this point, eager to slide over from rightfield, Beltran’s days on the New York Mets could be numbered.
On the surface, the prospective trade would be an exchange of bad contracts, since Beltran makes $18 million in 2011, and Matsuzaka will make $20 million* over the next two years. However, it could also address the Red Sox’s hole in centerfield (assuming Mike Cameron is still on his death bed) and hypothetically relieve some of the Mets rotation woes.
While there is no doubt the Mets are in dire need of starting pitching, the real question is whether Matsuzaka would actually help the them. If Dice-K was still partying like it was 2008–boasting a 2.90 ERA, 154 K’s in 167 IP, and 18 wins to boot–it wouldn’t take long for Mets General Manager, Sandy Alderson, to pull the trigger. But ever since Matsuzaka’s star-studded 2007 and 2008, he has posted a 4.99 ERA, 1.51 WHIP, 187 K’s, 104 BB’s, and just 13 wins. Unless the National League doesn’t use a strike-zone in 2011, it wouldn’t matter much if Matsuzaka switched from the high-flying AL East to the comparatively Florida retirement community that is the NL East. Essentially, extreme control issues aren’t a factor of ballpark or opposing offenses.
On the flip side, it’s not as if the Red Sox are receiving a gem in Carlos Beltran, but he is certainly the finer wine in this deal. Beltran is no longer the swift defender and power/speed threat he once was, but with some health, he could still be an asset. Another nugget to chew on is that he posted a .321/.365/.603 line in September/October last season, when he was arguably back in the swing of things. Regardless of whether he slightly, fully, or doesn’t rebound in 2011, most importantly, his mammoth salary will be off the books after the season. That alone should be the deciding factor in this alleged swap.
(*It’s possible it could be more since the Red Sox had to pay a posting fee of $51+ million.)