While Edwin Encarnacion has been an oft-speculated fit for the Sox, Beltran can be had on a shorter deal and won’t cost Boston a draft pick like Encarnacion would. He could also potentially see some time in the outfield corners on the rare instance that Mookie Betts needs a day off or should presumptive 2017 left fielder Andrew Benintendi require a day off. While Beltran’s glove certainly no longer rates as the plus asset it once did, the very fact that he can be inserted into the outfield a handful of times over the course of the season gives him an attribute that fellow DH candidates like Encarnacion and Kendrys Morales don’t possess (although the Royals did somewhat stunningly use Morales in right field for 37 innings during interleague play this past season).
The switch-hitting Beltran will play next season at the age of 40 but showed little sign of slowing down this past season. He didn’t perform as well with the Rangers as he did with the Yankees upon being traded to Texas midseason, but his aggregate offensive output was nonetheless terrific. In 593 plate appearances, Beltran slashed .295/.337/.513 with 29 home runs and 33 doubles. His walk rate did dip to 5.9 percent this season, but it was at 8.3 percent over the two previous seasons, and Beltran’s contact rate remains decidedly above average.
As Heyman notes in his column, Beltran is likely to be attainable on a one- or two-year deal. We predicted a one-year pact in our free agent predictions earlier on Monday evening, but if Beltran is already certain that he wishes to play beyond the 2017 season, then it stands to reason that he could find interest on a two-year deal with a slightly reduced annual rate.