Photo by Corey Sipkin/New York Daily News
By Rich Mancuso
Trading deadline: Carlos Beltran has been hearing rumors the past few weeks about the New York Yankees ambitions of getting younger and more athletic. The 39-year old outfielder, having a comeback season and leading run producer for the team is aware.
“I never pay attention to those things and just focus on playing and winning baseball games,” he said last week, and the week before when the constant question was posed as being a possible target of going elsewhere.
But Beltran, the 17-year veteran has been through this in the past. Trades and the deadline are a new part of the baseball industry and teams in contention at the deadline are always seeking that impact player.
Beltran, with MVP numbers, and healthy again with two bad knees was having that MVP season with the Yankees. He was the Yankees impact player on a team that was struggling and out of contention though the Yankees 6-½ games behind the Orioles and Red Sox in the AL East, and trailing four teams in the wild card may not be out of contention.
Ownership realized that Beltran, with a lot to offer, and in a walk-off year was a good trading commodity to get younger. After much speculation and talk, and at the deadline Monday afternoon, Beltran was now a Texas Ranger as the Yankees got younger by obtaining 22-year old right handed pitcher Dillon Tate.
For the Yankees, a team team that became sellers and not buyers, and for the first time in a long time, Beltran was their offense in a season of inconsistency. Beltran was also used as a designated hitter when not in right field and the numbers showed his value, and as to why teams were in active talks with the Yankees.
This was a comeback player of the year, after missing a good amount of time with injuries to the knees last season, and is fifth all-time on the Yankees list for home runs by a switch hitter.
Beltran hit .304, with 50 runs scored, including 22 home runs and 64 RBI with 21 doubles. He was the team leader in RBI and home runs and you just don’t trade away your best player, or do you in this age of what is known as a business in the game of baseball?
“I don’t blame them,” he said about the Yankees making the move, an hour before the 4pm deadline. “We didn’t do our job as ballplayers. At the end of the day it is our responsibility as ballplayers to try and win games and we didn’t. It’s a part of baseball.”
And in this day and age of baseball economics, Beltran, signed by the Yankees to a three-year contract in December of 2013, was that high profiled player that was not making the Yankees younger as they also gained ten prospects in various trades.
It is understood why the Yankees would make the move, and with a reality that Beltran was one of the highlights of a disappointing season in the Bronx. Gone also, are pitchers Ivan Nova, Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller.
Chapman and Miller were two parts of that Yankees bullpen, along with Dellin Betances, three closers who were supposed to shut the door for the Yankees when they had leads in the late innings. But with an offense that failed to score runs, and with starting pitching that was inconsistent, the Yankees decided to go with this youth movement as one of the oldest rosters in baseball.
Now the Yankees are considered to have the top minor league system in baseball with the trades they pulled, and the way baseball economics works who is to know if Beltran returns as a lower paid designated bitter for the Yankees next season.
After all, he loved playing in New York in front of family and many friends. It’s a matter then, of a soon to be 40-year old player who at one point before the season said openly that this was going to be his final season as a ballplayer.
“I love playing in New York,” said Beltran as he packed his bags and headed to Texas Monday afternoon when he was informed that it was goodbye to New York again. He, at one time helped the crosstown Mets to the postseason in 2006 as a high profiled free agent.
He added: “If it was my choice, I would have gone nowhere. I love it here.”
And the Yankees clubhouse will miss the presence of Carlos Beltran. It was evident when players said goodbye and good luck to the veteran who has been through this route with the Royals, one year with Houston, four years with the Mets and another with the St. Louis Cardinals.
“Time to turn around and help the next team,” said Beltran. “Try and continue to win ballgames.” And with the Texas Rangers, Beltran will be the primary designated bitter that will help their offense as they strive to stay atop the Al West division.
He said about the impending trade rumors and next destination, “I did not know the teams. Playing in the American League was more of a chance to DH. I know my position as a ballplayer . The DH is a great position for me even though I like playing the outfield.”
The Yankees made a decision, and it did not come easy. The hierarchy had enough of the losing and getting younger was the plan. Beltran, reportedly got a message from ownership to stay in touch and there were cordial words leading to speculation that he is a borrowed player for the Rangers.
The switch came as Beltran was in the visitor’s clubhouse at Citi Field for the start of the interleague Subway Series with the Mets. There was disappointment and again there were no tears.
This is a business and Carlos Beltran, no novice to this, was ready to move on. The Yankees got younger with another future arm for their rotation, and Beltran is that possible cog to taking the Rangers deep into October.
“Once you get to the playoffs..that’s what it is all about,” he said. And with that, Carlos Beltran moved on in this business known as the game of baseball.