It has been reported that the Rays have been in the mix on free agent outfielder Carlos Beltran. Buster Olney has also mentioned that Beltran would like to be closer to his home in Puerto Rico, although it is not a major factor in his decision making process, it does bode well for the Rays.
Carlos Beltran has been one of my favorite players since I pulled three of his rookie cards in a box of 1995 Topps Traded baseball cards when I was much younger. I remember reading that he ran a 60 yard dash in 6.1 seconds and took a look at his high school stats and I had to know more about this kid from Puerto Rico.
Beltran would then go on to start what might end up being a hall of fame career and this fan would like nothing more than to see one of his favorite players in a Rays uniform, even if it is toward the end of his career.
Heck, Wade Boggs and Jose Canseco were two of my favorite players when I first started watching baseball and I would go to Rays games just to watch them play and try and score an autograph from them while waiting outside the player parking lot at the Trop. Now, as an almost thirty year old father and husband I can still see myself doing the same with Beltran. Pathetic? Some will say so, but the fan in me will never die and I love the thrill of watching and hopefully meeting my favorite players.
The best part of this is that the Rays need an impact bat added to their lineup. This is not a secret. But is Beltran, even if he were to drop his price tag a little, really a good fit for the Rays? As a Beltran fan it saddens me to say that I'm not so sure he is a good fit here.
Let me explain.
Beltran is likely looking for a three year deal worth $12M-$15M annually but is reportedly weighing two and three year offers. That does not necessarily mean the Rays have or have not offered him a contract, but the other teams in the mix for him have more money to spend and a three year deal in the $40M range will look a lot better than a two year deal in the $24M range, and that may be a reach to think the Rays would even offer that.
Injuries and Age:
Beltran will be turning 35 in late April and has a long history of injuries, many of which are leg related. This does not bode well for a player who wants to play the field and will have half of his games on turf if he signed with the Rays.
Beltran has missed time with knee, thigh, hamstring, ankle, and foot injuries just to name the ones that are leg related. Not to mention he has spent time on the disabled list with wrist and oblique injuries. The good news for Beltran is that the Rays have an incredible medical staff.
Beltran, throughout his career, has performed at his worst on turf and under a dome. Check out his splits when considering game conditions:
*Stats from Baseball-Reference
As you can see, Beltran performs much better on grass than on turf, in open air stadiums rather than domes, and in day games rather than night games. I included tOPS+ (a stat that shows the player's split relative to his overall OPS) to show that dome and turf, although in the smallest of his career sample sizes, have been where he has found the least amount of success.
Even though his numbers in a dome and on the turf are the lowest of his in any game condition they would still be a welcomed addition to the Rays lineup but not at $12M+ per year for at least two years. It just does not make sense.
Like I said above, I am a big Beltran fan. If he comes here I would be very happy but I am not so sure that the Rays and Carlos Beltran make a good fit when all factors are included.