Carlos Beltran has put up some fantastic numbers over a 15 year career and he impressed the St. Louis Cardinals in his first year with the club last season. After a 32 home run campaign Beltran now heads into a contract year and is now forced to audition for 29 other MLB teams.
At 35-years-old Beltran is no rookie, however the switch-hitter still led the Cards in home runs and was second to Matt Holliday with 97 RBI. Even though Beltran may have lost a step in the batting average category he still did a wonderful job manning right field where as he spent 132 games at the position and committed just two errors all season long.
The Cardinals are definitely in a sticky situation regarding Beltran, as their outfield is full of players over the age of 30 including Holiday who is tuned 33 in January. On the flip side, the organization has Oscar Taveras in the minor leagues and they think he is going to be the best Cardinals prospect since Yadier Molina. Although Taveras is an outfielder who will turn heads this Spring I doubt he will be at the MLB level to start the season.
Taveras’s growth may not directly impact the teams decision to bring back Beltran next year, but it could sway General Manager John Mozeliak one way or the other in terms of the teams ultimate direction.
While I’m sure Beltran doesn’t enjoy playing without a long-term contract he’s a consummate professional who has been in this situation before playing for five different teams including St. Louis. Beltran could definitely throw a wrench in the Cardinals plans if he has a dynamite campaign in 2012, but in my mind this will be his last year with the club as the team will go a more younger route in 2014.