Tag: Carlos Beltran

Carlos Beltran Signing Puts Astros One Step Away from AL Favorites

The last time Carlos Beltran was in a Houston Astros uniform, he was punishing baseballs left and right as he led the team deep into the postseason.

It could be deja vu all over again 11 months from now.

After parting ways back in 2004, Beltran and the Astros reunited Saturday. Buster Olney of ESPN.com was first to report the Astros had signed the 39-year-old switch-hitter to a one-year, $16 million contract. According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, Beltran’s contract also features a full no-trade clause.

Go ahead and score another one for an Astros lineup that has reached full ignition this winter.

The Astros already had a core of Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, George Springer, Evan Gattis, Alex Bregman and Yulieski Gurriel. Now they have Brian McCann and Josh Reddick in addition to Beltran. Per Brian McTaggart of MLB.com, here’s how they could line up on Opening Day:

The only major changes I’d make are sliding Reddick over to his natural right field position, Gattis to left field and Beltran into the designated hitter spot.

That’s where he belongs these days. Beltran was still a darn good center fielder when he played for the Astros in 2004, but age and mileage have taken a toll on his legs. The advanced metrics make it clear that he can’t play even average defense as a right fielder.

Fair warning: Beltran’s also not going to be the hitter he was the last time he was in Houston.

After he was acquired from the Kansas City Royals in a June trade, he boosted the Astros with a .926 OPS and 23 home runs in 90 regular-season games. He then posted an absurd 1.557 OPS and hit eight homers in leading the Astros to Game 7 of the National League Championship Series. Asking him to do that again would be like asking Altuve to dunk on Hakeem Olajuwon.

But while numbers reminiscent of 2004 may not be in store, old age has only slowed Beltran’s bat down so much.

He’s put up an .830 OPS and hit 48 home runs over the last two seasons. Most of that damage came in 2016, when he had an .850 OPS and cranked 29 home runs in 151 games with the New York Yankees and Texas Rangers.

The Astros could have benefited from production like that at a number of different positions. As ESPN Stats & Info will vouch, DH was one of them:

Beltran’s arrival should make for better fortunes at that position in 2017. And the news is nothing but good elsewhere too.

Reddick’s arrival gives the Astros another bat for an outfield that, Springer aside, struggled offensively in 2016. McCann has been a more consistent hitter than the guy he’s replacing behind the plate, Jason Castro. Full seasons from Bregman, a former No. 1 prospect, and Gurriel, formerly a Cuban superstar, could also yield impressive results.

At the least, Houston’s offense is due for a major improvement from its place in the American League in 2016, in which it finished eighth in runs and ninth in OPS. As FanGraphs’ Jeff Sullivan highlighted, it could even be the best offense in the league as things stand now.

And the 2017 Astros should do more than just hit.

A defense that finished second to only the Chicago Cubs in defensive runs saved in 2016 is arguably just as good now as it was at the end of the season, if not better. And despite losing Pat Neshek in a salary-dump trade, the Astros have largely retained a bullpen that, by FanGraphs‘ calculation, led baseball in wins above replacement in 2016.

The only part of the team that looks like an Achilles heel is the starting rotation. It put up a 4.37 ERA without good peripherals in 2016. The only upgrade it’s gotten this winter is Charlie Morton, a 33-year-old whose health and productivity have been easy-come, easy-go.

This is the part that makes me hesitant to buy into the early projections at FanGraphs, which have the Astros pegged as the AL’s best team with a 2017 projection of 91 wins. Of course, there’s also the fact the Astros are just about done with their offseason shopping while most other teams haven’t even started theirs.

However, there is the possibility that the Astros will get bounce-back seasons from 2015 Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel and Collin McHugh. There’s also the possibility that Lance McCullers will stay healthy and dominate with his electric stuff—Castro, now with the Minnesota Twins, won’t soon forget it.

There’s also the possibility that the rotation is next in line for a major upgrade. Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports has the latest on that:

According to Heyman, the Astros have their eyes on Chicago White Sox ace Chris Sale and Tampa Bay Rays ace Chris Archer. It could require taking Bregman out of the picture, but they have enough young talent to acquire either one of them. Even after dropping tens of millions on their offseason acquisitions to this point, they should also have the funds to take on Sale’s or Archer’s contract.

“We’re going to have the resources to go out and sign some players,” Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow promised in October, via Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle.

The Astros will have nothing to complain about if they get Sale or Archer. They’ll have taken a team that, though flawed, was good enough to win 84 games in 2016 and outfitted it with a lineup, rotation and bullpen worthy of a World Series chase.

This is unfinished business for both Beltran and the Astros. Beltran hasn’t won a World Series in his 19-year career, and the Astros have played in one and won none in their 54-year history.

It’s all too easy to imagine either party saying three magic words as soon as Saturday’s deal was done: Let’s do this.


Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted/linked.

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MLB Free Agents 2017: Rumors, Predictions for Josh Reddick, Carlos Beltran, More

Major League Baseball’s signing season hasn’t ramped up just yet, but there’s plenty of chatter floating around that could serve as a good indicator of where several of the market’s most coveted players will land.

From corner outfielders to relievers on the comeback trail and ageless designated hitters, there are free agents aplenty who can help contenders make leaps in 2017.

So as the hot stove heats up, here’s a rundown of the latest buzz from around MLB


Orioles Pursuing Reddick 

The Baltimore Orioles are in need of corner outfield reinforcements, so it makes sense that they’re getting in on the Josh Reddick sweepstakes.

According to MLB Network’s Jon Morosi, the Orioles are pursuing the 29-year-old after he batted a career-high .281 during a 2016 season that saw him split his time between the Oakland A’s and Los Angeles Dodgers.

On both sides of the ball, Reddick makes sense for the Orioles. 

He’s historically crushed the ball at Camden Yards and owns a lifetime OPS of 1.167 in Baltimore, according to Morosi. That mark is his highest at any MLB park, per Baseball-Reference.com, and it complements some other outrageous stats at the hitter-friendly park. 

All told, Reddick has compiled five home runs, 12 RBI and a .400 batting average in 24 career games at Camden Yards. 

Defensively, Reddick would also add value next to center fielder Adam Jones. 

According to FanGraphs, Reddick ranked sixth among all MLB right fielders last season (minimum 300 innings played) with six defensive runs saved. Only Mookie Betts, Adam Eaton, Jason Heyward, Nick Markakis and Ezequiel Carrera posted superior totals. 

Morosi also noted the Toronto Blue Jays have interest in Reddick since Jose Bautista, according to Today’s Knuckleball’s Jon Heyman, will reportedly decline the team’s $17.2 million qualifying offer. 

And while Reddick makes sense for both American League East contenders, his history of hitting the cover off the ball in Baltimore should make the Orioles the leader in the clubhouse for the time being. 

Prediction: Reddick signs three-year deal with the Orioles


Red Sox Interested in Beltran

Age evidently isn’t going to slow Carlos Beltran down. 

During his age-39 season, which was split between the New York Yankees and Texas Rangers, Beltran clobbered 29 home runs and tallied 93 RBI—his highest totals in both categories since he was named an All-Star during the 2012 campaign. 

Beyond his impressive power, Beltran also batted .295 with a .337 on-base percentage. Not surprisingly, those numbers have at least one pennant contender interested in his services. 

According to ESPN.com’s Scott Lauber, a league source disclosed the Boston Red Sox want Beltran “badly.”

Might boil down to whether Beltran wants more than a one-year guarantee,” Lauber wrote. “Unclear at this point. Regardless, Beltran wasn’t subjected to qualifying offer by virtue of getting traded during season, so signing team won’t have to cough up first-round pick.

The Red Sox are in need of a new full-time designated hitter following David Ortiz’s retirement, and the soon-to-be 40-year-old Beltran would seem to be a perfect fit.

However, the Red Sox will likely have to compete with at least one other AL club in order to land the aged slugger. 

The New York Daily News‘ Mark Feinsand reported the Houston Astros are “hot” for Beltran, and the rising AL West squad could have appeal to Beltran after he spent 2004 in H-Town. 

When it comes time to make a decision, the chance to win a World Series should steer Beltran toward the Red Sox—who already have the pieces and pitching staff necessary to help him capture that elusive championship ring. 

Prediction: Beltran signs two-year deal including club option with Boston


Boston Hoping to Lock Down Holland? 

Greg Holland missed the 2016 season after he was forced to undergo Tommy John surgery, but that hasn’t prevented a slew of clubs from kicking the tires on him in free agency.

According to WEEI’s Rob Bradford, “the Red Sox are among the most aggressive suitors for the free agent relievers. There are, however, ‘several teams’ that are showing a similar level of interest.”

A two-time All-Star, Holland was one of MLB’s most consistent closers during the 2013 and 2014 seasons. He recorded 93 saves during that span and posted sub-1.50 ERAs over the course of those two stellar years. 

However, a recent post-surgery showcase left lingering questions regarding his future effectiveness. 

According to the New York Post‘s Joel Sherman, Holland’s fastball clocked in between 89 and 90 mph during the audition. That was concerning, namely because his career fastball average before hitting the shelf was 95.5 mph, per FanGraphs

“He had good extension, which suggests he is healthy,” a scout told Sherman. “This is his fastball in November, 13 months after surgery—it will be something else in spring training. But this is the key now: What does he look like in four months? That is really what you are trying to figure out.”

If there’s good news for Holland, it’s that he doesn’t necessarily need an overpowering fastball thanks to his reliable slider. 

“The Greg Holland slider was front and center,” Holland’s agent, Scott Boras, said, per Sherman. “The reaction should be pretty positive after that. He just had to illustrate that he was healthy because when he has been healthy, he has been elite.”

Bradford cited the Yankees, New York Mets, Chicago Cubs, San Diego Padres, Seattle Mariners and Washington Nationals as other teams that could chase Holland, but he noted “it is unclear which clubs have the same level of intent as the Red Sox.”

And after closer Craig Kimbrel struggled throughout the second half of the season, adding a contingency plan like Holland makes all the sense in the world for the Red Sox. 

Prediction: Holland signs two-year deal with the Red Sox


Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless noted otherwise. 

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Carlos Beltran: Latest News, Rumors, Speculation on Free-Agent OF

Carlos Beltran may be entering his age-40 season in 2017, but the veteran outfielder/designated hitter will likely be a hot commodity in the offseason after putting together a strong 2016 campaign.

Continue for updates.

Report: Astros ‘Hot’ to Sign Beltran

Wednesday, Nov. 9

According to the New York Daily NewsMark Feinsand, the Texas Rangers and Houston Astros are both showing interest in Beltran.

Along with the Astros and the Rangers, the Boston Globe‘s Pete Abraham speculated the Boston Red Sox could be a contender to sign Beltran if they’re priced out of the market for other sluggers.

Splitting time between the Rangers and the New York Yankees, Beltran reached his ninth All-Star Game last season. Transitioning into more of a DH role, he had a .295/.337/.513 slash line along with 29 home runs and 93 runs batted in.

Perhaps most importantly, he appeared in 151 games after missing 82 combined games between 2014 and 2015.

Expecting Beltran to repeat his 2016 power numbers may be unrealistic, but he has averaged a little over 23 homers and 79 RBI a season going back to 2011. That kind of consistency is generally lacking in much of this year’s free-agent class.

While Beltran no longer remains a Gold Glove-caliber defender, his work at the plate will be enough to entice a team to sign him to a lucrative, short-term deal.

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Scott Miller’s Starting 9: Rangers, Indians, Cubs Race Toward History

Trading places, trading stories, trading, trading, trading…. Reactions, thoughts and takeaways…


1. Sacred Moment, Sacred Teams

Maybe the Chicago Cubs break their 107-year World Series-less drought this year, maybe they don’t. But in picking up closer Aroldis Chapman, the Cubs boldly made the move they needed to make to give this team an even better chance to win.

Afterward, Theo Epstein, the Cubs’ president of baseball operations, offered this untradeable quote:

“Every chance to win is sacred,” he told USA Today‘s Bob Nightengale. “So if you don’t do it now, when?

“We have a healthy rotation, a healthy bullpen, two MVP candidates and a team that has built this big lead. You can’t just take that for granted.”

Write that down, print it out and tack it up on your wall.

Every chance to win is sacred. So if you don’t do it now, when?

Credit the Cleveland Indians for recognizing that in dealing four prospects to the New York Yankees for lefty setup man Andrew Miller.

Credit the Texas Rangers for recognizing it and acquiring both Carlos Beltran (from the Yankees) and Jonathan Lucroy (from the Brewers).

Credit the Washington Nationals for recognizing it and scooping up closer Mark Melancon (from the Pirates).

Credit Miami for acquiring a couple of starting pitchers and a closer, even if the Marlins did wind up sending injured Colin Rea back to the Padres in a partial reversal of last week’s deal on Monday.

The Cubs (last won a World Series in 1908), Cleveland (1948), Rangers (never in their 55-year existence, since 1961) and Nationals (last World Series in D.C.: 1924) represent the longest World Series droughts in the game.

On the opposite end, you have the Dodgers, who I wrote last week blew it by not making a bold move one year ago to put their team over the top. When you have an in-his-prime Clayton Kershaw (last year), history will be a harsh judge if you don’t take advantage of those chances to win.

So now will Los Angeles’ acquisitions this year of lefty starter Rich Hill and outfielder Josh Reddick put the Dodgers over the hump? I still don’t think the moves were bold enough, but with Kershaw injured and Zack Greinke gone, it isn’t nearly as egregious as the Dodgers’ work last year at the deadline.

Certain fanbases have been waiting their entire lives for a World Series title. As former San Francisco Giants coach Tim Flannery is fond of saying, you don’t pick the time to win, the time to win picks you.

Some teams recognize that better than others. When the time to win picks you, you need to move. Prospects are enormously important, yes. But every season is not a one-size-fits-all blueprint. Sometimes, the best thing you can do with those prospects is turn them into major league players who can help you win, and win now.


2. Cleveland Goes All-In

Imagine a World Series between a Cubs franchise and an Indians franchise that collectively have not won in 174 years.

What a story that would be, and the Indians did their part by acquiring lefty Andrew Miller at the trade deadline to boost a pitching staff that already has what it takes to win the American League pennant.

For that, credit a front office that, recently, too often has been too timid at this time of year to make the big move. But here’s the thing: The Indians hired Terry Francona to manage before the 2013 season, and you don’t hire a manager with Francona’s pedigree unless you are going to go for it when the time is right.   

With Francona running the show, the Indians have a responsibility to hit the gas, and boy, did they ever. They swung and missed on catcher Jonathan Lucroy, who used his no-trade clause to reject a deal to Cleveland. But the Indians added Miller, who, at the time he was acquired, had 77 strikeouts and only seven walks this season.

“I don’t want to be overly dramatic, but from [Indians owner] Paul Dolan to Chris [Antonetti, president of baseball operations] and his guys…not just what it does for our team statistically, wins and losses, but the message it sends is that you’re going to see guys with some extra bounce in their step,” Francona told reporters Sunday.

Not to mention that when the Indians travel to Yankee Stadium this weekend, they don’t have to face Miller.

Francona talked about how when he is out around town, some in Cleveland have been questioning him about the team’s direction.

“People will stop and say something to me and inevitably, it’s that kind of comment like…’How come we’re not with the big fish?'” Francona said. “I mean, there is no bigger. Chris and the guys just went out and got the very best guy there was, and if you don’t think other teams wanted him, you’re crazy.

“So they didn’t half-ass it; they went and got the best there is. There’s no better message.”


3. Jay Bruce’s Nightmare Over, But the Mets?

Having served as a Human Trade Rumor for the past year-and-a-half, finally, outfielder Jay Bruce learned he had a new home: the New York Mets.

A couple of things here:

One, good luck to that vaunted Mets pitching staff now when it gives up fly balls to an outfield whose glove work is, well, questionable. Mets general manager Sandy Alderson continues his long pattern of collecting corner outfielders who can hit while pretty much ignoring defense while he’s at it. Heading down the stretch, the Mets now have three corner outfielders in Bruce, Yoenis Cespedes and Curtis Granderson (plus Michael Conforto) but no true center fielder. And center field is enormous in Citi Field.

That said, here’s why the Mets acquired Bruce, whom Alderson called “not an absolute perfect fit”:

The change of scenery should work wonders for Bruce. When B/R caught up with him over the weekend, the poor guy’s mind was turning somersaults on him. Last July, the Reds nearly dealt him to the Mets for pitcher Zach Wheeler. This spring, the Reds nearly dealt him to the Blue Jays. Last week, the strong rumor was a three-way deal that would have Bruce landing with the Dodgers.

When we talked, Bruce said he just wanted it done.

“I love Cincinnati,” he said. “I’ve loved my time here. But it’s clear what’s happening. It’s time for both sides to move on. I want to win.”

He now has a chance…as well as a very unique place in history:


4. Texas No Longer All Hat and No Cattle

This side of San Francisco executive vice president of baseball operations Brian Sabean and his assistant, GM Bobby Evans, nobody works the trade deadline as expertly as Rangers GM Jon Daniels and his staff. And the Rangers did it again, adding outfielder Carlos Beltran, catcher Jonathan Lucroy and reliever Jeremy Jeffress while holding on to key youngsters Jurickson Profar, Joey Gallo and Nomar Mazara.

Lucroy helps both behind the plate and with the bat. Beltran will be cool lemonade on a hot day to a club whose designated hitters rank 13th in the AL with a .655 OPS. And Jeffress strengthens a bullpen whose closer, Shawn Tolleson, was last seen being optioned to Triple-A Round Rock.

For Beltran, the Yankees were able to acquire Texas’ first-round pick (No. 4 overall) from last year, pitcher Dillon Tate. But overall the Rangers, who sources told B/R investigated starting pitchers from the White Sox’s Chris Sale to Tampa Bay’s Chris Archer to Philadelphia’s Vincent Velasquez and everyone in between, ultimately made Houston’s task of playing catch-up in the AL West far more difficult.

The Rangers played in the World Series in 2010 (losing to the Giants) and 2011 (losing to the Cardinals), coming within one strike of winning in ’11 before suffering heartbreak.

From here, it looks like the Rangers have every chance of getting that last strike this October.


5. Crunching Numbers With the Dodgers

OK, so Los Angeles failed to make a big move, but Reddick will help the Dodgers. And in a sabermetric-leaning front office that includes experienced and forward-thinking types such as Andrew Friedman, Farhan Zaidi, Josh Byrnes and Alex Anthopoulos, you don’t have to look far to decipher one thing about Reddick that was very attractive to them:


6. Weekly Power Rankings

1. August: Quick, who is going to clear waivers this month?

2. Twitter: The trade deadline, when even players can’t keep their noses out of their smartphones in the clubhouse.

3. Danny Duffy: Takes a no-hitter into the eighth and whiffs 16 Tampa Bay Rays on Monday night. Not exactly the kind of trade deadline day Royals fans were looking for, but it was fun while it lasted.

4. Yasiel Puig: His absence on the Dodgers’ charter flight to Denver garnered a lot more attention than any absence from the Dodgers’ lineup, and that’s the problem. Spent three seasons making himself expendable. And now, after having reportedly been told he will either be traded or demoted, according to Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, he is.

5. Do-overs: Wait, didn’t the Marlins acquire right-hander Colin Rea from the Padres? And the Padres acquired Colin Rea from the Marlins? Huh? 


7. Explaining the Marlins-Padres Re-Trade

Speaking of the trade that didn’t quite work out as planned, Miami worked overtime to add two starting pitchers as the Marlins push to overtake Washington in the NL East, or to earn one of the two NL wild-card spots.

Then Rea felt pain in his elbow in the fourth inning Saturday, and all hell broke loose.

In a nutshell: The Marlins screamed that the Padres sent them damaged goods. Sources close to Miami noted San Diego’s turnover in medical staff this year and claim that Padres general manager A.J. Preller hired trainers who would simply tell other clubs whatever he wanted them to say.

The Padres maintain that Rea was completely healthy when they shipped him to Miami, noting that in each of his two starts leading up to the deal, he had pitched six innings, throwing 106 and 103 pitches, respectively. No problems. They also say Preller is not responsible for the new trainers.

In the end, according to B/R sources, there was a discrepancy between the teams in the medical records exchanged. Rea, a source said, had changed the anti-inflammatory medicine he takes between starts the week before he was traded. While the original medication was included in the documents the Marlins received, the new medication was not.

Consequently, when Rea was forced to leave Saturday’s game with pain, the Marlins were upset. The Padres were at fault for leaving the anti-inflammatory detail out of the chart and, as such, to end the dispute, agreed to take Rea back and send minor league pitcher Luis Castillo back to Miami.


8. Chatter

 Yes, the Chicago White Sox (for Chris Sale) and everyone else wanted young Texas slugging prospect Nomar Mazara. As one NL executive told me: “I’d give my eye teeth for Mazara.”

 San Francisco’s additions of left-handed starter Matt Moore and lefty reliever Will Smith appear to be two more perfect deadline moves by the Giants. Manager Bruce Bochy has not had as strong a bullpen this year as he did during world championship years in 2010, 2012 and 2014, and Smith helps. Moore deepens the rotation. And the two lefties combined will help against the Dodgers down the stretch, whose lineup is left-handed-heavy with Cory Seager, Adrian Gonzalez, Chase Utley and Joc Pederson.

 One MLB executive on the Cubs’ acquisition of Chapman, who will be a free agent this winter: “They’ll sign Chapman, and it will be something like three years at $15 million a year. They have to. They have a short window with their pitching. Jon Lester and John Lackey are older, and Jake Arrieta probably is going to be gone [via free agency]….”

 The Padres worked hard to deal catcher Derek Norris, but when Lucroy vetoed the potential trade to Cleveland, it muddied the waters enough to shoot down any potential Norris deal. Sources tell B/R the Padres were talking with the Brewers about sending Norris to Milwaukee as a stopgap catcher the rest of the summer. But in the end, the Brewers acquired Andrew Susac from the Giants in the Will Smith deal. San Diego also spoke with Houston about Norris, but the Astros weren’t ready to address their catching until this winter.

 In his first summer as a seller, Yankees GM Brian Cashman killed it, acquiring eight prospects for Chapman and Miller, plus three more for outfielder Carlos Beltran. After their trades, the Yankees now employ eight of the top 100 prospects, according to Baseball America.

 The Yankees last were sellers in 1989, when they sent Rickey Henderson to Oakland for pitchers Greg Cadaret and Eric Plunk and outfielder Luis Polonia.

• Don’t sleep on the other two relievers the Cubs acquired. Joe Smith (from the Angels) and Mike Montgomery (Mariners) don’t have the cachet of Chapman, but they make Chicago’s bullpen much better as well. Smith is a funky side-armer, and Montgomery is left-handed. The Cubs now have more weapons who come at opponents from different angles.


9. Closing Time?

So, we’ll close with this: Is Rich Hill the guy who will put the Dodgers over the top? Really? Maybe:


9a. Rock ‘n’ Roll Lyric of the Week

Nothing more fitting than this from Johnny Cash as we cross the non-waiver trade deadline…

“Boston, Charleston, Dayton, Louisiana,

“Washington, Houston, Kingston, Texarkana,

“Monterey, Ferriday, Santa Fe, Tallapoosa

“Glen Rock, Black Rock, Little Rock, Oskaloosa,

“Tennessee, Hennessey, Chicopee, Spirit Lake,

“Grand Lake, Devil’s Lake, Crater Lake, for Pete’s sake;

“I’ve been everywhere, man

“I’ve been everywhere, man

“‘Cross the deserts bare, man

“I’ve breathed the mountain air, man

“Of travel, I’ve had my share, man

“I’ve been everywhere.”

—Johnny Cash, “I’ve Been Everywhere”


Scott Miller covers Major League Baseball as a national columnist for Bleacher Report.

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Rangers Shake Up AL Pennant Chase with Carlos Beltran, Jonathan Lucroy Haul

Major League Baseball’s 2016 trade deadline passed with a veritable bang. Deals were being made left and right, and many included big names.

In no place, however, was the noise louder than in Texas.

The Texas Rangers approached the deadline sitting pretty with a six-game lead over the Houston Astros in the AL West. But rather than be content with a straight shot at a division title, they declared their lust for the franchise’s first World Series title with a pair of deadline deals:

  1. Acquired OF/DH Carlos Beltran from the New York Yankees for minor league RHPs Dillon Tate, Eric Swanson and Nick Green.
  2. Acquired C Jonathan Lucroy and RHP Jeremy Jeffress from the Milwaukee Brewers for minor league OF Lewis Brinson and RHP Luis Ortiz.

Before anyone asks, yes, the Lucroy trade is official. It’s natural to have doubts after he used his no-trade clause to nix a deal to the Cleveland Indians over the weekend, but the man himself announced he’s happy to be on his way to Arlington:

While we’re on the topic of doubts, it’s also fair to feel wary at the amount the Rangers gave up to do these deals. Tate has struggled in 2016, but he was Texas’ No. 4 pick in the 2015 draft. Brinson and Ortiz, meanwhile, were rated by MLB.com as the Rangers’ No. 2 and No. 3 prospects, respectively.

But in times like these, the words of MLB Network’s Tom Verducci (via Dan Kolko of MASN Sports) must be heeded: “The idea is to win the last game of the World Series, not to brag about your farm system.”

There’s no question the Rangers had a shot at winning the World Series even before their flurry of deadline activity. But there’s also no question said shot looks a lot better after the fact, in no small part because their lineup is legitimately formidable.

The Rangers entered Monday ranked third in the American League in runs scored, but only seventh in OPS. They’re not short on good hitters, but Ian Desmond was their only regular with an OPS over .800.

Not anymore.

Beltran joins the Rangers with an .890 OPS and 22 home runs. Lucroy comes with an .841 OPS and 13 home runs. What’s more, they fit into spots where the Rangers needed help the most:

For his part, Lucroy could also influence the Rangers’ run prevention. 

One thing Rangers catchers have struggled with in 2016 is framing strikes. StatCorner.com’s metrics claim Bobby Wilson, Robinson Chirinos, Bryan Holaday and Brett Nicholas have combined for minus-10.9 framing runs above average. Lucroy has resided on the opposite side of the spectrum, accounting for 5.5 framing runs.

Assuming he can carry that over, that’ll be a boost to a Rangers starting rotation that, led by Cy Young contender Cole Hamels and strikeout fiend Yu Darvish, is already fifth in the American League with a 4.15 ERA. Lucroy’s framing would also help the bullpen, of course. 

But not as much as the other guy the Rangers got from the Brewers.

Although Jeffress isn’t a big-name reliever, he’s done nothing but dominate since the Brewers picked him up off the scrapheap in 2014. In 158 outings with the Brewers, he put up a 2.38 ERA in 151.1 innings.

It’s not that Jeffress is unhittable. He’s averaged 8.2 strikeouts per nine innings in his career, which isn’t great in this time of high-octane relievers. The trade-off is that Jeffress is hard to hit well. His career ground-ball rate is 57.5 percent. And per Baseball Savant, his average exit velocity of 84.4 miles per hour is the lowest in MLB this season.

This makes Jeffress the second savvy relief pickup Rangers general manager Jon Daniels has made in less than a week. Lucas Harrell may have been the headliner in last week’s trade with the Atlanta Braves, but Dario Alvarez could prove to be the key piece. In light of his ability to miss bats, Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs sees Alvarez as a potential relief ace.

There should be better days ahead for a Rangers bullpen that’s struggled to the tune of a 4.78 ERA. With Jeffress and Alvarez joining Sam Dyson, Jake Diekman, Tony Barnette and Matt Bush, Texas skipper Jeff Banister has quite a few options to help shorten games.

How good are the Rangers now? According to Yahoo Sports writer/smart person Jeff Passan, arguably the best of all AL clubs:

Baseball’s great and all-powerful sphere of numbers isn’t too sure about that. Per Baseball Prospectus, the Rangers began the day with a 5.5 percent chance of winning the World Series. That’s compared to 17.9 percent for the Cleveland Indians, who’ve added the monstrous Andrew Miller to a pitching staff that was already loaded.

However, there’s no disputing the Rangers are indeed “damn good.” They now have a lineup that can hit (and field), and it’s backed by a quality starting rotation and a deeper bullpen. These things should make them a shoo-in to finish off their pursuit of a second straight AL West title. After that, they’ll be a good bet to play deep into October.

That didn’t go so well in 2010 and 2011. But in 2016, maybe the third time will be the charm.


Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted/linked. 

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Carlos Beltran to Rangers: Latest Trade Details, Comments, Reaction

With their season slipping away, the New York Yankees have traded All-Star outfielder Carlos Beltran to the Texas Rangers.   

The Rangers announced that they have acquired Beltran and cash in exchange for Dillon Tate, Erik Swanson and Nick Green. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports first reported the trade.

Beltran has been one of the few bright spots for the Yankees in 2016. The 39-year-old was named to his first All-Star team in three years thanks to leading the team in home runs (22), doubles (21), RBI (64) and slugging percentage (.546). 

The Yankees had to make a decision about where they were headed down the stretch this season, with Beltran being a perfect test case. 

Wallace Matthews of ESPN.com reported after the All-Star break that people within the Yankees front office were divided on what path to take:

According to a baseball source who spoke to ESPN on condition of anonymity, the opposing factions are composed of the baseball operations people, led by general manager Brian Cashman, who believe the team should sell off its assets and plan for the future, and the business side, which is led by owner Hal Steinbrenner and team president Randy Levine, who hold to the belief that the club is still in contention.

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports later reported that even though there was “nothing certain,” the Yankees would “take offers for both [Beltran] and [Aroldis] Chapman if they [fell] out.” They already dealt Chapman to the Chicago Cubs last week.

Ultimately, Cashman’s side won out. It’s also the right decision for the franchise at this moment. The Yankees have plenty of contracts that aren’t movable, such as Mark Teixeira’s, CC Sabathia’s, Jacoby Ellsbury’s and Alex Rodriguez‘s. 

Beltran is making a reasonable $15 million salary this season, especially given his offensive production, and was likely to net a good return. 

The Yankees will get more salary relief this offseason when Teixeira becomes a free agent. Per Cot’s Baseball Contracts, the team will have $95 million coming off the books in 2017. That may not include Sabathia’s $25 million salary for his vesting option, but at least the team is going to have more money to work with soon. 

Beltran may be nearing the end of his career, but he doesn’t play like someone who is 39 years old. He’s a tremendous hitter for average and still providing plenty of pop to be a great asset for the Rangers’ playoff push.

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MLB Trade Rumors: Latest Buzz on Aroldis Chapman, Carlos Gonzalez and More

While the New York Yankees have failed to play good baseball for much of the season, they have hovered around the .500 mark in 2016. That record has allowed them to stay within hailing distance of the second wild-card spot in the American League.

However, they may be on the verge of dropping out of a realistic position to earn that postseason spot, and if they do, Fox Sports insider Ken Rosenthal reported they will be willing to part with some of their key talent before the Aug. 1 trade deadline.

The biggest trading chip they have is fireballing reliever Aroldis Chapman, who is a free agent at the end of the season. Chapman is the kind of closer who can help a playoff team become dominant when he has the ball in the ninth inning.

Once the Yankees make the determination that they are going to move Chapman, look for general manager Brian Cashman to work the phones in an effort to drive up the bidding for a pitcher who is capable of throwing 104 mph or higher and striking out the side in a key situation.

All-Star Carlos Beltran is another Yankee who is likely to be moved, according to Rosenthal. Beltran is having a productive season, hitting .297 with 19 home runs, 58 RBI and a .542 slugging percentage, according to Baseball-Reference.com.

Beltran has also been an exceptional postseason hitter throughout his long career. He has a lifetime .332 batting average along with 16 home runs and 40 RBI. That playoff success could allow Cashman to get a better return for the 39-year-old outfielder.

This is an unusual position, because the Yankees have always been interested in adding to their team as they prepare for the playoffs. But the team has not been able to sustain momentum this year, and that’s why Cashman may ultimately have to sell off assets like Chapman, Beltran and perhaps a few others.

The Yankees and the Kansas City Royals have already talked about a trade involving Beltran, according to George A. King III of the New York Post. Royals pitcher Luke Hochevar was one of the names mentioned in that proposed trade.

Carlos Gonzalez often sees his name in trade-rumor stories, but it seems far more likely that the Colorado Rockies will hold on to him at this point.

According to Rosenthal, the Rockies have received calls and offers (37-second mark) for Gonzalez, but general manager Jeff Bridich has not followed through on any of those offers. Rosenthal said Colorado will hold on to Gonzalez rather than trade him at this point because they have a better chance to contend by 2017 with him than without him.

Gonzalez is under contract through 2017, and so is Bridich. It may simply be a matter of self-interest for the Colorado general manager.

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Carlos Beltran Trade Rumors: Latest News, Speculation on Yankees OF

With the New York Yankees’ (45-46) playoff hopes slowly fading, Carlos Beltran‘s impending free agency will make him a strong trade chip for the team.  

Continue for updates. 

Beltran Linked to Royals

Monday, July 18

The New York Post‘s George A. King III reported the Yankees and Kansas City Royals discussed a potential trade involving Beltran earlier this season.

Beltran Not Untouchable

Saturday, July 16

Per Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, the Yankees “will trade” Beltran “if things don’t turn” around in the two weeks before the August 1 non-waiver trade deadline.

Beltran a Strong Trade Option

Beltran has been terrific this season for the Yankees, making the American League All-Star team and leading the team in doubles (18), home runs (19), RBI (58) and slugging percentage (.542). 

Yet the Yankees know they can deal him because his contract is set to end after the season, and Aaron Judge is hitting .261/.357/.469 with 33 extra-base hits in Triple-A. 

The 39-year-old Beltran is likely to be one of the best hitters available leading up to the trade deadline, especially if the Yankees accept the reality of their situation and are motivated to move him. 

The Yankees are 8.5 games behind the Baltimore Orioles in the American League East and 5.5 games out of the second wild-card spot.

Trade options for Beltran could be limited because he’s a bat-only player at this point in his career. The Yankees have started using him more as a designated hitter, though he’s played more games in right field this season with negative results. 

The Yankees need to get younger and more athletic if they hope to avoid a long rebuilding period. Trading Beltran to at least open up a roster spot for a talented young player like the 24-year-old Judge would be a good first step for the franchise.

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Carlos Beltran Injury: Updates on Yankees OF’s Hamstring and Return

New York Yankees outfielder Carlos Beltran left the field during Tuesday’s 7-1 loss to the Texas Rangers because of tightness in his right hamstring. An exact return date has yet to be revealed.

Continue for updates.

Beltran Comments on Recovery

Thursday, June 30

ESPN.com’s Wallace Matthews noted that Beltran said his hamstring is feeling better, and although he will take batting practice on Thursday, he is unsure if he will be available to pinch hit against the Texas Ranges. 

Beltran’s MRI Clean, Injury Is Day-to-Day

Tuesday, June 28

MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch and Nick Suss reported on Beltran’s exit in the first inning of Tuesday’s contest. Hoch later reported Beltran was dealing with a cramp and noted the results of his MRI, citing Yankees manager Joe Girardi as the source.

Even at the age of 39, Beltran has been New York’s most effective all-around hitter during the 2016 campaign, posting a slash line of .297/.336/.570 with 19 homers and 53 RBI. Unfortunately, his prowess at the plate apparently led to his injury:

At least it doesn’t appear as though the eight-time All-Star’s ailment is too serious. While the Yankees can’t afford to rush him back, Beltran is instrumental to their success, and he needs to be in the lineup to help the Bronx Bombers hang in the playoff hunt.

In addition to being a valuable batter who can hit from both sides of the dish, Beltran, despite not having the physical tools he once did, is a savvy defender whose presence will be missed in the outfield.

Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez could use Beltran’s short-term absence as a catalyst to step up to their potential on offense in the midst of woeful individual performances.

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Beltran Joins Exclusive Club Upon Recording 2,500th Hit

New York Yankees outfielder Carlos Beltran recorded his 2,500th career hit during the fourth inning of Saturday’s eventual 9-5 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays, thereby joining Barry Bonds, Willie Mays, Andre Dawson and current teammate Alex Rodriguez as the only players in major league history with 2,500 hits, 400 home runs and 300 stolen bases, per Sportsnet Stats on Twitter.

Beltran’s milestone hit was a solo home run to left field off of Rays pitcher Matt Moore, cutting Tampa Bay’s early lead from 5-0 to 5-1. The Rays quickly put the game out of reach over the following two innings, extending the lead to 9-1 by the bottom of the fifth, which allowed Moore to pick up his second win of the year.

Beltran made outs in his other two plate appearances, and he was removed from the contest early due to tightness near his right scapula, per MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch.

The 39-year-old Puerto Rican outfielder—who has 404 homers and 311 steals to go along with his 2,500 hitswas subsequently held out of the lineup for Sunday’s series finale, allowing 26-year-old Aaron Hicks to get the start in right field.

While his .263 batting average and .290 on-base percentage don’t impress, Beltran clearly still has plenty of pop left in his bat, boasting 12 home runs, 31 RBI and a .537 slugging percentage through 48 games, putting him on pace for 41 homers and 105 RBI.

Of course, given his age and injury history, Beltran probably won’t play enough games to have a real shot at reaching 40 homers for just the second time (2006) in his career.

Regardless, his longevity and five-tool skill set should help to make a strong case for the Hall of Fame whenever Beltran does decide to retire.

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