Letting Beltran walk away for $1 million was one of the biggest mistakes in Kansas City Royals history. Now, after the team’s best season in decades, they have a chance to right that wrong and make torrential waves in the free agent market.
I listed Beltran first on my list of the Royals’ most exciting offensive upgrade possibilities, above even Jacoby Ellsbury, because bringing Carlos back is a Royals fan’s dream come true. To imagine Beltran cementing his bid for the Hall of Fame with a World Series win in powder blue is enough to inspire salivation. Is it enough to inspire David Glass to increase payroll and pay for the proven veteran’s desired contract? And, is it enough to outweigh the importance of shelling out for Ervin Santana?
Maybe and no, respectively. Without retaining Santana, Glass and the Royals wouldn’t have to make a big stretch to sign Beltran for two or three years. Some will point out that the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox are also interested in Beltran, which could put the asking price out of Kansas City’s reach. Many seem to forget that the Yankees won’t be spending like teams of old while trying to minimize their budget for tax reasons. They should be/will be wary of overspending on a 36-year-old with no legs, and Boston will be, too. The Red Sox are coming off a World Series win, and they won’t change a winning formula to spend an inordinate amount on Beltran.
For all foreseeable reasons, the Royals should be willing to spend more on Beltran than the other interested teams. Beltran means more to Kansas City than any other team in the league. My aforementioned fairy tale aside, the Royals’ need for a power upgrade is serious. Billy Butler struggled in 2013, and putting a bat like Beltran behind him in the lineup would exponentially increase this team’s offensive potency.
Another detriment to signing Beltran would be his lack of range defensively, but once again, the Royals have that covered better than any other team. The rest of the outfield will be covered by Gold Glove nominee Lorenzo Cain and two-time Gold Glove winner Alex Gordon. Tell both of those guys to take two steps to the right, tell Carlos to crowd the foul line, and everything’s gravy. Beltran still has a strong arm, so adding him in right would be similar to adding former Royal outfielder Jeff Francoeur, with slightly less range. I’d say that mild downgrade is well-worth a new team leader in homers and RBIs.
All this makes Beltran a good fit, but clearly not a perfect one. Like I’ve raved about on several occasions, improving the offense is a must, but changing the pitching rotation puts everything at risk for 2014. Signing Santana should still be the Royals’ paramount goal. If they’re unable to do so, the Royals should go after Beltran full-force. If they sign him, Glass will take another huge step toward likability, from the murky cave of fan hatred he’s been slowly crawling out of for years.
If the Royals sign Beltran and Santana, I’ll eat this keyboard, and I’ll do it with a smile on my face.