New York Mets outfielder Carlos Beltran(notes), the prize of this summer's non-waiver trading deadline, is headed to the San Francisco Giants, according to two sources with knowledge of the negotiations.
From a field that included the Philadelphia Phillies, Texas Rangers and Atlanta Braves, the defending World Series champion Giants ultimately had the greatest need for the switch-hitting slugger and came with the highest bid – 21-year-old right-hander Zack Wheeler, the sixth pick in the 2009 draft who projects as a top-of-the-rotation starter.
The Mets also will include $4 million toward the remainder of Beltran's contract, which comes to about $6 million.
The trade could not be announced because Beltran has no-trade, 10-and-5 protection that requires a 24-hour window for reflection before official consummation. Beltran will approve the trade, a source said.
Beltran, who has overcome recent knee issues to reclaim his place among the game's top hitters, could join the Giants on Thursday night in Philadelphia. After missing good portions of the past two seasons, Beltran, 34, is batting .289 with 15 home runs, 66 RBIs and a league-best 30 doubles.
Three months from free agency, he became available as the Mets were falling behind the Phillies and Braves in the NL East, and a field of suitors that narrowed to Beltran's liking on Wednesday morning became the Giants.
Seeking for a second consecutive summer to add offense to one of the stronger pitching staffs in the game – they lost Buster Posey(notes) for the season in late May and acquired second baseman Jeff Keppinger(notes) from the Houston Astros a week ago – the Giants will place Beltran in the middle of an order that ranks next-to-last in runs and is near the bottom in home runs in the National League. These are the traits and issues the Giants ran straight into late October last year, and with the addition of the switch-hitting Beltran made a bold move toward repeating that path.
The Giants are expected to introduce Beltran to the Bay Area by writing him into the third slot ahead of Pablo Sandoval(notes), with Aubrey Huff(notes) or Nate Schierholtz(notes) batting fifth. Beltran is capable of playing center field as well as either corner.
Assuming the deal becomes official, Beltran could join the Giants on Thursday night in Philadelphia or Friday night in Cincinnati.
Wheeler is a big price to pay for two months of Beltran, by any measure. He’s considered an ace in the making by some scouts, and at worst a No. 2 or 3 starter. In 37 appearances – 29 starts – over two summers in A-ball, Wheeler has a 3.99 ERA and has averaged more than a strikeout per inning pitched. At a reedy 6-foot-4, Wheeler possesses a fastball that reaches 98 mph, a good breaking ball and an emerging changeup.
The Mets envision Wheeler as part of a one-two punch of the future, with right-hander Matt Harvey, the seventh overall pick in the 2010 draft.
With Beltran spoken for, that leaves the Phillies and Braves, in particular, and the Milwaukee Brewers, Cleveland Indians, Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates still searching for offensive production. The Tampa Bay Rays have made outfielder B.J. Upton(notes) available. The Houston Astros have considered trading Hunter Pence(notes). Josh Willingham(notes) and Ryan Ludwick(notes) can be had, as well.
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