Is Carlos Beltran to blame for MLB's latest ridiculous contract?

Posted by Scott Wuerz on December 5, 2013 

Blame Carlos Beltran for the latest ridiculous long-term Major League Baseball contract.

And the money isn't even his.

But, according to a New York Post story, the New York Yankees considered Beltran their top off-season priority and were prepared to pay hi handsomely... for two seasons. When Beltran held out for a third year -- a season that would be played when the slugging outfielder is 39 years old -- the Bronx Bombers decided to look in other directions.

The Yankees ended up investing in a younger player, passing out $153 million dollars to former Red Sox centerfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, the third-richest contract in MLB history for a fly chaser.

While I can appreciate that New York would be reluctant to spend $16 million or so for a guy who is pushing 40, I still don't get how Ellsbury is worth that kind of scratch. He's basically a one-trick pony: a prolific stolen base artist. But he's 30 years old. Few players since Lou Brock had remained effective base pilferers in their mid and late 30s when the Yankees will still be writing paychacks to the Boston defector.

A .297 career hitter with a .350 on-base percentage, Ellsbury has hit 30 or more doubles twice in his career. He's got very little power for an outfielder. Except for a freakish 2011 season when he obliterated his career highs in nearly every offensive statistic and smacked 32 homers, he's never hit double figures in long balls.

Beltran has a higher on-base percentage, .359. He averages 28 homers a season and, like Ellsbury, he has four seasons of 30 or more stolen bases in his career. But, tellingly, the most recent of Beltran's big stolen base seasons came in 2004 when he was 28 years old.

Beltran, reportedly, will get his money elsewhere with at least one team rumored to have offered him $48 million over three seasons. I joke about Ellsbury's deal being Beltran's fault. But it really makes one wonder if the Yankees hadn't gone nuts on Ellsbury who would have offered a contract in the same universe as what he got.

Most of the big money clubs are set in centerfield or else have other reasons they wouldn't spend big on an outfielder. The Dodgers are stocked at that position. The Mets don't have any money to spend. The Angels are stocked and they don't have any money to spend. And Boston wasn't motivated to spend the kind of cash it would take to out-bid their arch rival. 

 

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