July 27, 2011
He's headed to San Francisco, as Yahoo! Sports own Tim Brown first reported on Wednesday.
Actually, that's not technically true: Once the trade is officially announced, the former New York Mets outfielder will report to Philadelphia, where the Giants are playing one of the other teams that was interested in the trade market's most coveted position player. He and his .289/.391/.513 line with 15 homers and 66 RBI will join a San Francisco lineup in desperate need of offense.
The price reportedly wasn't cheap for Giants GM Brian Sabean. In exchange for Beltran, the team will send minor-league pitcher Zach Wheeler, the Giants' first pick in the 2009 draft, to the Mets. The 21-year-old righty was rated the 55th-best prospect in baseball before the 2011 season and is currently 7-5 with a 3.99 ERA at Single-A San Jose. As Tyler Kepner of the New York Times writes, "the very fact that the Giants selected him in the first round amounts to a ringing endorsement," considering the team's recent success with young pitchers.
According to Joel Sherman of the NY Post, the Mets will also pay $4 million of Beltran's remaining $6 million salary this season. That's a financial nod to the quality of the prospect the Giants had to surrender for two months of a player who will hit free agency after the season. It's a good haul for Mets GM Sandy Alderson, who took advantage of a NL contending field that's heavy on pitching but light on lineups.
Despite the Giants parting with Wheeler, I'm ok with the price they paid. They obviously have a lot of quality pitching and they didn't have to give up minor-league outfielder Gary Brown. They'll also receive compensation picks if they don't re-sign Beltran at the end of the year. Most importantly, though, they added a big bat so their title defense will be less reliant on the offense of Cody Ross(notes) or Aubrey Huff(notes). (Sure it worked last year, but ...) Bottom line: If your pitching rotation has bloomed with enough horses to win not only one but two titles, you go for the glory now. The Giants are where most organizations wish they were.
What's surprising to me is that the deal got done so far ahead of Sunday's deadline. And now that Beltran is off the market, the still-hungry teams must turn their attention to reinforcements like B.J. Upton(notes), Carlos Quentin(notes) or Hunter Pence(notes). All three of those player's values just went up now that the Giants have landed the first strike.