I thought the biggest news I’d hear from the Indians this week is their signing of Andy LaRoche to a minor league deal on Wednesday. Now, Buster Olney and several others on Twitter are saying that the Indians have “jumped into” the Carlos Beltran negotiations.
Despite his history of injuries, Beltran is still drawing strong interest from around baseball. I thought he may end up staying in San Francisco, but they don’t appear to be one of the teams involved in negotiations. Instead, it looks like it’s the Indians, Cardinals, Blue Jays, Red Sox, and Rays. For the Indians and Rays to be involved, you know that Beltran’s stock has probably dropped to a reasonable price. It will still likely take at least a two year deal to sign him.
The Indians were interested in Beltran last summer before the trade deadline, but there were rumors that he would not waive his no-trade to come to Cleveland. That could be because he just dislikes the Indians organization or Cleveland, but it could also mean that he didn’t think they were a serious contender last season. If it’s due to the last reason, it’s feasible that a competitive offer may bring him to Cleveland. The Red Sox and Cardinals are going through a number of changes this off-season, while the Blue Jays and Rays are comparable in market size to the Indians.
Because of Beltran’s unwillingness to come here last summer, and because of the Indians’ usual cheapness, I had pretty much eliminated even a remote possibility of Beltran coming to Cleveland. Of all the free agent outfielders, I figured the Indians had the best chance of signing Josh Willingham; when he went to Minnesota I figured there wouldn’t be any major free agent additions to the Tribe. This news on Beltran is quite intriguing though.
In 2011, split between the Mets and the Giants, the switch-hitting Beltran hit .300/.385/.525 with 22 home runs. He also had 500+ at-bats for the first time since 2008, when he played in 161 games. If the 34-year-old Beltran remains healthy in 2012, he could be a huge help to the Tribe’s offense. Could you imagine a healthy lineup that includes Grady Sizemore, Asdrubal Cabrera, Carlos Santana, Travis Hafner, Shin-Soo Choo and Beltran…along with strong performances from either Jason Kipnis or Lonnie Chisenhall? Despite the risk of adding another player with injury issues, I would love to see this signing. If the Indians actually open their wallets and lure Beltran to Cleveland, he could be the big bat they’ve been missing.