Before the World Series was over there was a ton of speculation and talk about Carlos Beltran and the New York Yankees. I was one of many Yankees’ fans all for signing Beltran. That was before the St. Louis Cardinals extended a qualifying offer to the star outfielder which ties a first-round draft pick to him if he signs elsewhere. It was also before news came out that Beltran is seeking a three to four year deal.
That’s right, you read that correctly. Beltran, who will turn 37-years-old in April, is asking for at least a three-year deal and the team that signs him has to surrender a draft pick, a first rounder if the team signing him has a draft pick outside the top ten. That is a lot to give up for an outfielder with a stellar track record but who is obviously not going to be a superstar anymore.
Beltran is still a very good player and his postseason performances are almost worth signing him to the kind of deal he is asking for. Almost. The Yankees’ farm system is not exactly loaded with talent and they currently have the 18th pick in the first round of next June’s draft. With that pick they should be able to land a very useful player. They also have qualifying offers out to Hiroki Kuroda, Curtis Granderson and Robinson Cano. Kuroda could return to Japan or retire and if either of those things occur the Yankees don’t get a compensatory pick. Granderson has garnered early interest from teams like the New York Mets and Chicago White Sox whose first round picks are protected so only a second-rounder would come the Yankees’ way. Cano is most likely going to return to the Yankees so scratch that pick.
Given the way teams are able to sign their younger players to long-term deals earlier in their careers, thereby buying up arbitration and early free agent years, the draft and developing prospects has become even more important. Last season, the Yankees drafted three young, promising players last season to start restocking their farm system with young talent. This season, they should have at least two first rounders, or at least two second round picks.
If the Yankees sign Beltran, they would be giving up a lot in terms of dollars, even on a two-year deal. Adding in the loss of a draft pick and the price is very high, especially for a player who will be 37 next season.
There is only one player worth a big contract and surrendering a first-round pick and that is Brian McCann who offers offense at a premium position, catcher.
Had Beltran not been extended a qualifying offer then the risk of giving a 37-year-old a three-year deal would be worth the risk. Now, it would be foolish to do so. The Yankees should instead use that money to spread around on several free agents and hold onto their draft pick.