Our old friend The Twitter was fairly fired up last night and into today with a report via Jon Heyman that the Royals are 'seriously in' on free agent outfielder Carlos Beltran.
A lot of you may be instantly more logical than myself, but my first gut reaction (and yes, you can have more than one gut reaction - it's the 21st century, times have changed) to this news was one of excitement. I mean, Carlos Freaking Beltran, you guys!
I am something of an old guy and my all-time favorite Royals are mostly old guys, too: Cookie Rojas, Willie Wilson and Mark Gubicza. While I like many of the 'modern' players, I don't know that any of them get into the all-time favorites discussion. Except maybe for Carlos Beltran.
In his heyday with Kansas City, Beltran hit for average, he got on-base, he stole bases and ran them well, he hit for power, he was an excellent fielder and, frankly, he was smooth and cool doing it. If you demand logic, Beltran finished out his Royals' career with fWAR seasons of 5.4, 5.4 and 6.8 (not to mention the partial 2004 we got when Carlos combined for an fWAR of 6.3).
Carlos Beltran was good back then and, honestly, he is still good now, but he is not the Carlos Beltran we remember so fondly.
He is no longer a centerfielder, having played just 47 innings at that spot in the last three seasons. As a rightfielder, a position at which Carlos has now logged over 3,000 innings, Beltran is a combined -8.3 UZR/150. While some around here get a little prickly at 'outsiders', I would welcome some input from St. Louis or San Francisco as to what their 'eyes' saw regarding Beltran in the field. With or without the 'eye test', one can be virtually certain that Carlos Beltran is not the defender he once was and, in fact, is likely a below average outfielder at age 37.
While Beltran has played in 141 or more games in each of the last three seasons, the general consensus is that he would have to spend at least some of his time as a designated hitter in the seasons to come. That's where it gets interesting.
Let's take a look at the last three seasons from a strictly offensive standpoint:
Butler will turn 28 in April, Beltran will turn 37. Carlos is not going to get any faster (he is a combined -1.3 in baserunning the last three seasons). Billy has never been fast or even moderately quick (a combined -17.3 baserunning the last three seasons). Beltran's fielding, which brought us to the Butler discussion in the first place, has been discussed above and, frankly, do we even need to discuss Butler's? At 37, I have no doubt that Beltran is a better athlete (in the run, jump, flex scope of athleticism) than Butler is at 28. Probably at 40, Carlos will be better than Billy at 31, but that doesn't mean he can play rightfield 145 games per year (or at least play it well).
Oh, by the way, Carlos Beltran does not come cheap.
And, oh by the way again, this all just a rumor and the Royals, in an odd way, are a good team for an agent to float as a possible suitor given Dayton Moore's tendency to add the extra year. One can offer 'well, the Royals are willing to go four years, but my guy will take three from you for just a little bit more money'.
Payroll issues aside, would you gamble on getting a full season in rightfield out of Beltran and his defense being adequate enough to justify it? A top four of Gordon, Beltran, Hosmer and Butler at least sounds intriguing, doesn't it?
Actually signing Beltran, in reality, likely would coincide with a trade of Billy Butler. Certainly it would mean not picking up Butler's $12.5 million option for 2015. Could the Royals realize enough return in a trade involving Billy Butler to make signing Beltran to basically replace him a worthwhile move?
The scenarios are many and interesting. It could all just be rumors and maybe not even decently possible rumors at that, but it certainly is interesting.
Pop quiz, hotshot. What would you do?