The Toronto Blue Jays focused on pitching at the 2016 trade deadline, but reportedly had interest in RF/DH Carlos Beltran
According to a Sunday report from Gerry Fraley of the Dallas News, the Toronto Blue Jays were interested in Carlos Beltran, then of the New York Yankees, ahead of the August 1st MLB trade deadline.
Back in mid-July, ESPN’s Jim Bowden reported that the Blue Jays were holding “internal discussions” on Beltran. He added at the time that Toronto had been “linked” to Melvin Upton Jr., who they added soon after.
“Toronto Blue Jays have had internal discussions about possible interest in acquiring Carlos Beltran if the Yankees decided to move him at the trade deadline according to a club source,” Bowden wrote at the time.
Frankly, there still isn’t much to go on here. Instead, it’s safest to take a surface-level view of Beltran and how he would fit the current Blue Jays roster should any of this chatter gain traction.
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First and foremost, Beltran will turn 40 years old within the first month of the 2017 season. A 19-year veteran with 2,617 hits and 421 home runs, Beltran has been one of the more dominant and consistent hitters of this generation. He hasn’t shown many signs of slowing down, either, as he posted an .850 OPS between the Yankees and Texas Rangers this past season.
Still, do the Jays have any logical room for a past-his-prime designated hitter that offers little beyond his bat? Only if a lot of other things happen first.
As the Blue Jays roster currently stands, Beltran would only make sense as a “luxury signing” that comes after several other “win now” moves. If Toronto maneuvers themselves into a position where they can reasonably say that they are one veteran bat away from being a World Series contender, Beltran is a very nice option, but otherwise, it doesn’t line up.
To his credit, Beltran’s career has given Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion a goal to shoot for by age 40. He’s coming off back-to-back seasons of 2.0 WAR or more and has posted an OPS over .800 in five of his last six seasons. He remains a perfectly reasonable addition for a team that is one piece away, but the Blue Jays aren’t there yet.
If they do reach that point, Beltran is also appealing in that he’s a switch-hitter. The Blue Jays have been a predominantly right-handed hitting team over the past two years and could afford to add some variety to their starting nine. With Justin Smoak under contract for next season as part of the 1B/DH picture, there is room for another bat-first player. Rowdy Tellez remains a dark horse candidate for a roster spot next spring, but if the Jays can find an excuse to give him one final year of seasoning at triple-A, there’s value in that.
Positionally, Beltran should be limited to being a primary designated hitter going forward. He’s capable of filling in as a corner outfielder in a pinch, but his value will be maximized in a bat-first role.
These Beltran rumblings are the first in a long line of loose possibilities that will be linked to the Blue Jays this winter. It could eventually make sense, but a great deal would need to happen first.