CARLOS BETRAN – 3 YEARS – $45 MILLION
Carlos Beltran had a twenty year career in the Major Leagues. He appeared in 9 All Star games, Rookie of the Year, three gold gloves and two silver slugger awards. He was the fifth player to ever hit 400 home runs and steal 300 bases. He played with the Astros in 2017 when they won the World Series and retired after the season.
He earned over $220 million in his baseball career. By his sixth season with the Royals his annual salary had risen to $9 million a year. In his first 5 seasons with the Royals he drove in 100 runs or more 4 times. The only year he did not, injuries restricted him to 98 games played. Except for his injured year he always hit more than 20 home runs with an average of around .300.
Knowing that free agency was coming and that the Royals could not afford him, half way through 2004, he was traded to the Houston Astros. Between the Royals and Astros he hit 38 home runs, stole 42 bases and had 104 RBIs. If that wasn’t impressive enough, Beltran sealed a big free agency in the playoffs. He set a single season record of 8 home runs including homering in five consecutive games. He ended up hitting .435 with 14 RBIs.
In 2005, he signed a 7 year $119 million contract with the Mets. In his first two years he suffered a head injury and later contracted vertigo. He hit .266 with only 16 home runs. The next year he toed a Mets record for home runs with 41. He won a Gold Glove and led the Mets into the playoffs. His three post-season home runs brought his playoff totals to 11 in 22 games.
He followed that with two good seasons. However, his defense started to slip. He was moved from center field to left field. He only played 81 games in 2009. In January 2010 he had surgery on his knee. A dispute started between Beltran and the Mets regarding that surgery. He did not play his first game of 2010 until July. By July 2011, the Mets traded him to the Giants.
In 2012 he signed a two year contract with the Cardinals. His batting average started to drop but he produced runs with 32 and 24 home runs with 181 RBIs over the two seasons. By now he was 37 years old.
THE BIG DAY
Despite age and slipping batting average, the Yankees gave Beltran a three year $45 million contract. The first year he hit .233, played in only 109 games and hit 15 home runs with only 49 RBIs. The second season he played in 33 games, batted .276 hit 19 home runs with 69 RBIs.
Half way through 2016 the Yankees traded Beltran to the Rangers. To accommodate the trade the Yankees also sent money to the Rangers.
In the end this three year contract was ill conceived and did not yield good results. The Yankees got a run producer who never drove in 70 RBIs in a year. In injuries restricted his play and his great defensive years were behind him.
When these things happen, one has to wonder what other players could have been on the team for that money. In general giving $45 million to a 37 year old rarely makes sense, even for the wealthy Yankees.