Before you shoot down the idea of the Braves trading a top pitching prospect like Mike Minor to rent Carlos Beltran for two months, consider this: He could be the difference in the them winning the National League East Division. And the pennant. And the World Series.
Beltran, who’s in the final year of his contract with the New York Mets, has been connected to seemingly every playoff contender in baseball’s rumor mill. But ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that there are only five legitimate pursuers right now: The Braves, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Boston and Texas. He pegs the Braves as the favorites.
There’s also a school of thought that Beltran, who has a no-trade clause, prefers to be traded to a National League team. In other words, if the Braves don’t get Beltran, one of their two biggest competitors – the Phillies or Giants — just might.
Beltran obviously isn’t the player he used to be, but he can still generate offense (entering tonight: .290, 15 homers, 61 RBI). He’s a switch hitter and can platoon in center field (Jordan Schafer) or right (Jason Heyward). He’s also a nice insurance policy should Chipper Jones struggle to return from a knee injury, or if he is reinjured (prompting Martin Prado to stay at third base and not return to the outfield).
But here’s the clincher: In four career playoff series with Houston and New York (22 games), he’s hitting .366 with a .485 on-base percentage, 11 homers and 19RBIs.
Imagine that as an option for the Braves in October.
If the Braves don’t have to mortgage their future for a rental player, general manager Frank Wren should make the deal. And since the Braves are deep in pitching, one prospect doesn’t qualify as mortgaging the future.
By Jeff Schultz