With Carlos Beltran returning to Citi Field this week as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals, it’s hard not to reminisce about his time with the New York Mets and the seven seasons he spent in Flushing. But is it possible that Beltran still has a future with the Mets and could return to the Big Apple as a free agent this offseason?
Beltran will become a free agent this winter, and judging by the way he has played this year, hitting .304 with 14 home runs, his career his far from over. The Mets will finally have money to spend in free agency this offseason, and since they are in dire need of help in the outfield, Beltran should be considered an option for the Mets could pursue this offseason.
It’s impossible to recall Beltran’s time with the Mets without remembering the strikeout against Adam Wainwright, the struggles he had, and all the games he missed due to injury, but there were other times during his seven-year tenure in New York that Beltran was extraordinary. Beltran has continued to play at a high level since the Mets traded him away in the middle of the 2011 season, and if they were willing to bring him back to New York, he could once again provide the middle-of-the-order bat that they’ve lacked since trading him away.
Beltran is no longer a center fielder, but the Mets no longer need him to play there, as they should be able to fill their void there with some combination of Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Juan Lagares, and Matt den Dekker. What the Mets need is consistent production from their corner outfielders, which Beltran would give to them, in addition to quality defense.
He may not be the player he used to be, and certainly the health of his knees would be a concern, but with such a weak free-agent class and no prospects on the horizon, the Mets would be foolish not to go after Beltran in the offseason. The Mets have to make moves this offseason that will help them win right away and since they won’t have to make a long-term commitment to Beltran, even if they end up paying him more than they’d like to, there would be limited risk. He’d be a short-term solution to a big problem they have because they know he will be able to produce for them.
Whether or not Beltran would have any interest in returning to the Mets won’t be known for certain until he becomes a free agent this winter. But while he’ll play his final game at Citi Field in 2013 today, Beltran playing there on a more permanent basis in 2014 shouldn’t be ruled out.