The Blue Jays were among the teams that chased then-Yankees designated hitter/right fielder Carlos Beltran prior to the Aug. 1 non-waiver trade deadline, Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News reported earlier this month.
“We saw Beltran over the years with the Yankees, and what a great hitter he was,” said Blue Jays manager John Gibbons. “A clutch-type perfomer.”
Deals between the AL East rival Yankees and Blue Jays have been rare, with Brendan Kuty of NJ.com noting that the teams’ most recent trade came when New York acquired Raul Mondesi in 2002. Beltran ended up going to the Rangers, who sent three right-handed pitching prospects (including 2015 fourth overall pick Dillon Tate) to the Yankees for the 39-year-old. Along with the Rangers and Blue Jays, at least three other AL playoff contenders – the Astros, Indians and Red Sox – pursued Beltran in advance of the deadline.
Even though their summer interest in Beltran didn’t lead to a deal, the Blue Jays still went on to vanquish him and the Rangers in a three-game ALDS sweep. Toronto, which then fell to Cleveland in the ALCS, is now facing an offseason in which three of its most important offensive cogs could depart as free agents. With Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Bautista and Michael Saunders all potentially on the way out, the Jays circling back to Beltran as an affordable stopgap in free agency seems possible.
Considering his age and declining defense, Beltran’s a strong bet to remain in the AL as primarily a DH, where Encarnacion, Bautista and Saunders saw action in a combined 121 games this year. Beltran won’t come cheap after slashing .295/.337/.513 with 29 home runs in 593 plate appearances in 2016, but he should appeal to offense-needy teams on a short-term contract.