The rumors swirling around the New York Mets this time of year are that they will be sellers — at least of Carlos Beltran. The All-Star outfielder is even commenting publicly on which places he could go, which makes it almost a no-brainer that Beltran is heading somewhere. But even the questions of where aren’t as wild as they generally are with a player of his status, because most of the discussion centers around the San Francisco Giants, last year’s World Series champions, who could use a left fielder and a bat of his caliber.
But Buster Olney, baseball writer for ESPN, says that’s not set in stone. The most common rumor involves 2009 first round choice Zach Wheeler heading to New York for Beltran to provide the Mets with a top flight pitching prospect in return. Money would also change hands given Beltran’s $18.5 million contract from the Mets for whichever team gives them a prospect.
Olney goes on to say that several teams are in the mix for Beltran still at this point, and notes the Detroit Tigers as one of them. He writes, “The Yankees are not interested, but perhaps the Tigers are, and they have always been known to be more aggressive than most teams and not shy about taking on a big contract.”
Who would the Tigers have to get up? And do they need a big bat in the outfield like that? Even though the Tigers are in first place, they remain there by a hair over the Indians and the Twins and the White Sox are both within striking distance. Heck, even the Royals are a hot streak away from being relevant in a weaker division. And for a first place team, the Tigers have major holes in the line-up.
Specifically, left field is a problem spot for the Tigers, who have been trotting out Ryan Rayburn for most of the at-bats there to the tune of a .213/.248/.360 line. Over the last two weeks, Raburn had picked up his average 15 points or so heading into the All-Star Break, but he’s still not any competition to a mindset of whether to go for after Carlos Beltran. The answer, if they have the money, is an obvious yes.
The Tigers could decide otherwise, given that they are fourth in the AL in batting already and their greatest woes are not in the line-up. But plugging that hole in left field might be worth taking up, considering the best hitting teams in the AL are all teams that the Tigers will have to contend with in the post-season, if they make it. The Yankees, Red Sox and Rangers all have potent line-ups and if the Tigers could pair Beltran with Miggy Cabrera and a hopefully resurgent Magglio Ordonez, well, that makes things a lot more destructive against opposing pitchers.
Perhaps Jacob Turner could get the job done, the Tigers first round selection in 2009. He’s currently in AA and looking very comfortable for a guy who just turned 20. He’s compared to Rick Porcello and the Mets should like an arm like that for half a season of Beltran. For the Tigers, that might hurt to lose a controllable promising arm, but Beltran could also be the difference between losing out on the divisional title and making noise deeper in the playoffs.