The Red Sox, Astros, Yankees and Blue Jays are the four teams that are showing the most interest in free-agent designated hitter/right fielder Carlos Beltran, reports WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford. According to Bradford, the Rangers aren’t involved in the talks for Beltran at this point.
Boston has an obvious opening at DH following the retirement of David Ortiz, although the team seemingly has enough internal options to cover the position. Hanley Ramirez could be shifted from first base to DH (or at least see occasional time there), while the Sox could also give Pablo Sandoval a look there after he returns from 2016 shoulder surgery. With Travis Shaw, Brock Holt and Sam Travis all representing possible options at the infield corners (Shaw at both, Holt at third, Travis at first), there are enough names to cobble together an effective corner rotation (especially if Yoan Moncada can prove capable of handling the hot corner at some point in 2017).
It’s been a dozen years since Beltran’s historic postseason run with the Astros back in 2004, but his bat remains potent enough to have him on the front office’s radar. The ’Stros could use Beltran as their primary DH and an occasional outfielder (George Springer could slide over to center field when Beltran is in the field), though that would seemingly push Evan Gattis from part-time catcher and DH to the team’s primary catcher.
The Yankees, of course, are the most familiar of the bunch with Beltran, as he played there from 2014-16 before his August trade to Texas. The Yankees will have more opportunities to get Beltran at-bats with both Alex Rodriguez (released) and Mark Teixeira (retired) off the roster, and he could see occasional action in right field, particularly if younger options like Aaron Hicks and Aaron Judge continue to struggle. Beltran is a known commodity to the New York coaching staff and in the Yankees’ clubhouse, which one would think could foster mutual interest.
As for Toronto, they’d have made more sense as a fit just one week ago, but the addition of Kendrys Morales on a three-year deal makes Beltran a tougher fit for the Jays. While Beltran’s switch-hitting bat would help to create more of the lineup balance in which GM Ross Atkins has openly expressed interest, signing Beltran would mean that the Jays would have to play either Beltran or Morales in the field regularly (Beltran in right field or Morales at first base). The Blue Jays would have to place a very heavy emphasis on the bats of both Beltran and Morales, as Beltran hasn’t graded out as even an average defender in right field since 2012, whereas Morales played just 128 total innings at first base over the life of his recent two-year deal with Kansas City. In fact, he hasn’t played more than 300 innings in the field since 2010 with the Angels. All of that makes the Blue Jays fit difficult to envision, though
It’s also certainly worth noting that the Rangers appear to be bowing out of the running for Beltran right now. That’s notable for a number of reasons, as Texas could use help in the outfield corners and at designated hitter but will apparently address those needs by other means. The team thought highly enough of Beltran’s bat to surrender young right-handers Dillon Tate, Erik Swanson and Nick Green in a deadline deal, but Beltran’s time with the Rangers, for now, looks as if it’ll be even more brief than his stay with Texas’ other team back in ’04.