Andrew Perna. 30th July, 2011 - 4:27 pm
Officially, Carlos Beltran had 24 hours to approve a trade from the New York Mets to the San Francisco Giants. In reality, the All-Star outfielder probably only needed a few minutes to come to a decision following an agreement between the two clubs on Wednesday afternoon.
For the time being, the trade appears to be a win for all parties involved.
Beltran, in the midst of a resurgent All-Star campaign, gets to play for a contender in the reigning World Series champion Giants.
San Francisco boosts their chances of repeating by adding a much-needed bat at minimal financial cost. The reported terms of the deal have New York picking up $4 million of the $6.5 million Beltran is due over the remainder of the season.
The Mets, meanwhile, make their second "major" trade of the month, having dealt closer Francisco Rodriguez to the Brewers on July 13. In the process, they saved some and at the very least added pitching prospect Zack Wheeler.
Beltran, who has earned more than $115 million in salary alone throughout his career, goes from a team more than 12 games out of first place to a club with a three-game cushion in their division.
He will still get his full $18.5 million haul for 2011 and should be playing in October for the first time since 2006. In four playoff series, Beltran has hit .366/.485/.817 with 11 home runs and 19 RBI. He slugged eight home runs in 12 postseason games with the Astros in 2004.
Not only will he get a chance to win a championship, but he also will not have to accept a reduced role of any kind. Remaining in the National League will keep him in the outfield and San Francisco has such a porous lineup that he will immediately hit third.
Had he gone to a team like the Rangers, Beltran would have had to accept the role of designated hitter while also deferring to incumbent sluggers Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz, Michael Young and Adrian Beltre.
Grade for Beltran: A
The Giants needed Beltran even more than he needed them. He could have gone to a few teams, namely the Phillies, with a similar chance to do far more winning than losing.
San Francisco has only scored more runs than two teams -- the Padres and Mariners. Seattle is coming off a 17-game losing streak and San Diego occupies last place in the NL West.
The Giants are collectively hitting just .241 (26th) and slugging just .360 (24th). They have the lowest OPS (.666) of any contending team.
Beltran was hitting .289/.391/.513 with 15 home runs and 66 RBI for the Mets without too much protection, although New York is clearly a better offensive team. There have been some concerns about him hitting at AT&T Park, which has allowed the fewest homers this season, but Citi Field is not exactly a bandbox.
The biggest fans of this deal have to be Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Ryan Vogelsong. All three starting pitchers have an ERA under 3.00, but none have double-digit victories. Greater run support will pad their win totals and give closer Brian Wilson fewer stress-filled situations.
The move was a calculated one by general manager Brian Sabean, who did have to give up Wheeler, the sixth overall pick of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft. The right-hander was rated as the 55th-best prospect entering the season by Baseball America.
Still, the risk is worth the potential reward given the host of young, proven arms the team has and their narrow World Series window.
Grade for the Giants: B+
The Mets accomplished three things by dealing Beltran to the Giants; they saved money, got themselves a top prospect and indirectly dealt a blow to the pennant hopes of the rival Phillies.
In order to make sure they would get a valuable player in return, New York is paying some of the remaining salary Beltran is owed, but they are still saving $2.5 million. For a team dealing with the financial woes their owner, that kind of savings is valuable.
Wheeler may only be pitching in the Class-A Advanced California League, but the 21-year-old is considered a top-tier prospect.
In 16 starts this season, he is 7-5 with a 3.99 ERA and 98 strikeouts in 88 innings. He has shown good control, walking half as many batters. Opposing batters are hitting just .224 against him and he was a CAL mid-season All-Star.
The Mets may not see Wheeler at the big-league level until 2013 or so, but he is still a very valuable asset to a team in a very competitive division.
Grade for the Mets: B
The Rangers, the other serious contender for Beltran, did not want to part with a top-flight prospect for the outfielder and New York was smart to insist on receiving one.
Mets general manager Sandy Alderson was also wise to pull the trigger on this deal before another outfield bat was dealt, avoiding a potentially change in market value.