Carlos Beltran: A Solution to the Mariners Problems

Sometimes the idea comes to you just after the fact. Sometimes it’s so obvious that you can’t believe that it didn’t occur to you before you wrote the article. Almost immediately after pressing Publish on yesterday’s article on the Mariners putrid offense, a few friends and I started talking about the issue. That’s when one friend said it. Couldn’t Carlos Beltran help the Mariners in every conceivable way? Why, yes he could. While it’s unclear what the Mets seek for their right fielder, and it’s equally unclear what the Mariners are willing to spend, the two make a perfect match for a trade. Adding Beltran’s bat and glove could be the difference for the M’s in the AL West.

While the Mariners are offensively deficient at a number of positions, they are particularly inept in the outfield. The nine players who have roamed the outfield grass for Seattle have combined for a .266 wOBA and -1.9 WAR. That is 3.6 WAR and .039 points of wOBA behind the next worst team. There are things that won’t change, such as Ichiro playing right field and, most likely, Franklin Gutierrez playing center. They’re established at those positions to different degrees, and there don’t appear to be any viable replacements. But in left field there is a gaping vacancy.

Of all the players thought to be available at the deadline, Beltran is far and away the best. He ranks 24th in the majors with a 3.2 WAR, and 21st with a .379 wOBA. He’s not quite at his peak hitting levels — few players at all have reached that point in this depressed offensive environment — but he’s still hitting like a top tier player. Yet the Mets, while playing well, are 10 games back in the NL East and 7.5 games back of the Wild Card. Their management now is smarter than the team they had in 2004, and so we likely won’t see them trading top prospects for useless pitchers. I would think that would move Beltran for the right package. Considering how many teams could use a power-hitting, good fielding corner outfielder, he could get expensive for a rental.

That puts the onus back on the Mariners. Do they have, and are they willing to surrender, a package of prospects that will entice the Mets and at the same time not completely deplete the farm system? Frankie Piliere ranked the Mariners’ farm system 16th in baseball, while Keith Law had them 10th and Baseball America had them 18th. That puts them solidly in the middle of the pack, and even with the promotions of, and dependences on, Dustin Ackley and Michael Pineda, they likely have enough in the stores to appease the Mets. Would they be willing to center a deal around Nick Franklin, whom the Mets could use to replace Jose Reyes? Law thinks that Stephen Pryor (currently getting shellacked at hitter’s paradise High Valley) and Tyler Burgoon (1.69 ERA as a closer in A ball) could move quickly. The Mariners also have the recently promoted Kyle Seager, plus a high-end but raw arm in Tiajuan Walker. That is, they definitely have the pieces to make a deal if they so choose. The question is of how much they’re willing to give up for the sake of the 2011 team at the expense of the 2013 and 2014 teams.

If the Mariners found the right combination of prospects to entice the Mets, they’d dramatically improve their team with one move. Not only would Beltran slide into the vacant left field slot, but he’d keep with the Mariners scheme of quality outfield defense, as to help their already excellent pitching staff. Beltran would also give them an excellent middle of the order bat to complement the streaky, but still very good, Justin Smoak. They’d have to take on salary in order to make the move, and it’s unknown exactly how much they can absorb. But if they’re serious about the 2011 season, it shouldn’t matter greatly. Beltran would turn one of their greatest weaknesses into a strength.

In the next week, maybe two, we’ll hear the Mets and Mariners continue the familiar refrain. They’re open to deals, but are waiting for the right one to come along. For the Mariners, Beltran is almost certainly the right player. They have enough talent on the farm to fairly compensate the Mets and still have enough ammunition for the future. It’s just a matter of the two sides agreeing to the specific prospects and the dollars changing hands. It will be a complicated process, but if the Mariners can swing it they could make a big second half run for the AL West crown.

We hoped you liked reading Carlos Beltran: A Solution to the Mariners Problems by Joe Pawlikowski!

Please support FanGraphs by becoming a member. We publish thousands of articles a year, host multiple podcasts, and have an ever growing database of baseball stats.

FanGraphs does not have a paywall. With your membership, we can continue to offer the content you've come to rely on and add to our unique baseball coverage.

Support FanGraphs




Joe also writes about the Yankees at River Ave. Blues.

newest oldest most voted
Doug
Guest
Doug

The Mariners are further out of a playoff spot than the Mets are, why would Seattle trade for him and why would the Mets even deal him at this point?

Tedge
Guest
Tedge

The Mariners are 4.5 games out. The Mets are 7.5 games out.

acerimusdux
Guest
acerimusdux

The Mariners are 9.5 behind the Yankees for the Wild Card. That means they have to pass two teams for the division, the Angels and Rangers. They are 5.5 back of one and 4.5 back of the other.

The Mets have 4 teams to pass in the Wild Card, but they are a half game back of 2 of them. So mainly they have to catch the Braves and Diamondbacks. They are 6.5 back of one and 4 back of the other.

And the Mets are 40-30 in their last 70 games, and have done that without a couple of their best players. The Mariners also got off to a slow start, but have gone 35-30 in their last 65.

Overall, it’s pretty close. It’s not clear the Mariners have the better playoff chances.

Ed
Guest
Ed

The Mets may have a better record than Seattle, but they are 10 games out of first and 7.5 games out of the wildcard. The odds of them catching two teams as good as the Phils or the Braves are remote at best. The Mariners are only 4.5 games behind the Rangers and have been as close as 1 game in the past 2-3 weeks. Their odds of making the playoffs are considerably higher.

Collateral Damage
Guest
Collateral Damage

Ummm the Mariners are 4.5 back of the division and the Mets are 10 back, but nice try…

acerimusdux
Guest
acerimusdux

Try the Playoff Odds Report:

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/odds/

As of 7/8,

Mets 2.6%
Mariners 1.7%

As of right now, Seattle is 5.5 back in their division, but 9.5 back of their wild card race. The Mets are 10 back in their division, but 6.5 back in their wild card race.

The point shouldn’t be which is better, it’s that neither really is looking that good for 2011.

Ja4ed
Member

Huh? The Mets are in 5th place in the NL Wild Card race, 7.5 games behind the Braves. They’re out of it. The Mariners are in 3rd place in the AL West, only 4.5 games behind the Rangers. They have a chance.

Beltran might not even be a Type B free agent since he only played 145 games in ’09 and ’10 combined. The Mets have no reason to pay the ~$9 million left on this contact.

This year, Beltan has been worth about 5 wins more than the Mariners leftfielders. That’s the difference between the 3rd place Mariners and the division leading Mariners.

ror0071619
Member
ror0071619

It doesn’t matter if he’s a Type A or B, he has a clause in his contract that he can’t be offered arbitration at the end of the contract.

Dennis
Guest
Dennis

http://espn.go.com/mlb/standings

Just to prove to you that the author was not making numbers up when he mentioned that the Mets are 7.5 games back of the Wild Card, linked is the standings. Mariners have a 3 game advantage in reaching the postseason, as opposed to the Mets.

Bill
Guest
Bill

But, the playoff odds calculator is a much better indicator of the team’s odds of making the playoffs because it doesn’t ignore the wildcard. Both teams are long shots. The M’s slightly more so. However, the M’s best player isn’t becoming a free agent next year and their ownership wasn’t part of a Ponzi scheme. So, the trade might still make sense.

Steve
Member
Steve

How do you figure?