Carlos Beltran may retire after the 2016 season, reports Zach Braziller of the New York Post. Beltran is entering his age 39 season and the final campaign of a three-year, $45MM deal signed prior to 2014. Beltran allowed that his decision will be affected by the level of performance he believes he can contribute in 2017. “If I feel like I produce well to the point where I can make a good impact on a team, then I can play one more year. Or if I feel like I have [had] enough, I’ll go home.”
After a rough 2014 campaign, the Yankees outfielder bounced back in 2015 with a .276/.337/.471 line and slightly below average defense in 531 plate appearances. Injuries have slowed Beltran in his time with New York too. While the original plan probably included using him at designated hitter with regularity, the returns of Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira last season forced Beltran into the outfield. The club will have to juggle a similar alignment this year.
If it is indeed the last season for Beltran, he’ll go out with an impressive 19-year resume. Over parts of 18 seasons, the switch-hitter has posted a career .280/.355/.490 line with 392 home runs, 311 stolen bases, and 2,454 hits in 9,929 plate appearances. He’s poised to reach 400 home runs, 2,500 hits, and 10,000 plate appearances this year. Defensive metrics also rated him as an excellent defender during his prime. With 66 career WAR, he has a legitimate case for Hall of Fame honors.
Bolstering his candidacy is a strong postseason track record. In 223 plate appearances, Beltran hit .332/.441/.674 with 16 home runs and 40 RBI. Win Probability Added (WPA), an advanced stat that measures the value of each play relative to the state of the game*, credits Beltran with about three wins in what amounts to about a third of a season. In other words, he hit like the 2015 version of Bryce Harper when the games counted the most.
Beltran has spent most of his career split between the Royals, Mets, Cardinal, and Yankees. He spent half the 2004 season with the playoff bound Astros – a year that included his best postseason performance. His .435/.536/1.022 October slash set up a seven-year, $119MM contract with the Mets. At the time, it was just the 10th deal to cross the $100MM threshold. Notably, the Giants traded Zack Wheeler for Beltran at the 2011 trade deadline.
*By comparison, WAR measures the value of each play without regard to game context. According to WAR, a walkoff grand slam down three runs in the bottom of the ninth is equally valuable as a grand slam in a 20-1 blowout. Using WPA, the walkoff grand slam is hugely valuable whereas the blowout grand slam is worth almost nothing.