As of now, there is no right answer to the question of when and if the Mets should trade Carlos Beltran. And there’s no hurry to find one.
If you had told me during Spring Training that, on July 10, Carlos Beltran would be leading the Mets in games played and headed to his sixth All-Star Game, I would have told you that the second part is not surprising given the first. When Beltran is healthy, he is great, a fact often overlooked regarding one of the most under-appreciated players in Met history.
Still, the reality is that the Mets are unlikely to re-sign Beltran, and justifiably so. He’s 34 and no longer fields or steals bases the way he once did, and he and Scott Boras will probably want more money than the Mets can afford with a payroll of $120 million or less. (Unfortunately, the ‘It’s New York, we don’t trade stars’ argument doesn’t cut it — at least not while the bleepin’ Wilpons are in charge.)
With that in mind, some people in the Mets’ front office seem to believe they should trade Beltran at the July 31 deadline and save about $6 million. However, this is the wrong approach. Right now, simply based on the standings, the Mets have a legitimate chance to make the playoffs. Until that is not the case, Beltran should stay.
If the Mets fall out of Wild Card contention — Sandy Alderson will have to determine what that means — in the weeks after the All-Star break and before July 31, Alderson should try to get the most he can for Carlos in a trade. But if they stay within striking distance — as they probably will — Beltran can be placed on waivers. In all likelihood, he would clear waivers, and Alderson would have the rest of August to deal Beltran to a contender and still save a few million bucks.
Finally, if August concludes and the Mets are still silencing the naysayers, and are within just a few games of the Wild Card — well, then we might just be stuck with this bona fide stud for the rest of the 2011 season.
The bottom line is it’s too soon to say that saving some cash by trading Beltran in July is the right move. This is not about ‘sending the right message to the fans’ — good messages don’t win championships — but rather about making the right decision for the present and the future of the franchise. Trading Beltran means significantly hurting the team’s playoff chances. While those chances are slim, they are real. As soon as they aren’t, Beltran can go.
Luckily, Alderson gets it. “We’re not anxious to trade Carlos,” he said today. “He’s been a key for us. I’d love to see him stick around.”
Because Carlos Beltran is far too valuable to trade a day too soon.