They say you can't go home again.
But the San Francisco Giants aren't buying into that theory. And, apparently, they would like to see a re-union with Carlos Beltran should the slugging St. Louis Cardinals outfielder hit the free agent market.
A report in the San Francisco Chronicle says the power-starved Giants are interested in adding a big bat over the offseason. And Beltran, who hit .323 with seven home runs in 2011 after a trade from the New York Mets, would fill the bill.
The Giants, who were tight on funds at the time, let Beltran walk two years ago even though they would have liked to keep him. Now they're scraping some big contracts off the books and could be prepared to reload. Their highest-paid player, Tim Lincecum, will complete his deal at the end of the year striking $22 million from the payroll. Barry Zito and The Worst Contract in the History of the World will no longer be the Giants' problem in 2014. He's making $20 million this year and will certainly receive a $7 million buyout on his $18-million option.
The Cardinals haven't closed the door on bringing back Beltran who potentially blocks top prospect Oscar Taveras from a starting job in 2014. And it's probably for the best that they haven't since Taveras missed half the 2013 season with an ankle injury that eventually required surgery. Plus there is the fact that Beltran is hitting .302 with the highest home run total for the Redbirds, 23. St. Louis hasn't exactly had power to spare this year with Allen Craig, David Freese and Matt Holliday all significantly down in the power numbers this season.
I think the no-brainer here is for the Redbirds to tender Beltran a qualifying offer which would put them on the hook for about $14 million (roughly what Beltran made in the second year of his current Cardinals contract) for one season. If Beltran rejects the offer and signs elsewhere the Birds would likely get a first round draft pick as compensation.
It would be interesting to see if a team would offer Beltran a multi-year deal to pry him away from St. Louis or if the contract tender would put Beltran in Kyle Lohse's situation: contract limbo into spring training concluded by signing a below market deal.
Beltran will be 37 years old. Is a team likely to give a guy with a history of bad knees a three-year contract? He doesn't need the money. He's already made a ton of cash in baseball. And the Cardinals will give him an excellent shot at winning an elusive World Series ring in 2014 -- if he doesn't get one this year. If he does win the big prize, I'd think that would be all the more reason for Beltran to come to St. Louis and close out his career with a victory lap.
The only factor working against the Cardinals is the issue of playing time. But that shouldn't be a problem. Taveras will likely play some centerfield when he finally makes it to the big leagues. Beltran ought to be able to easily play five games a week with the Cardinals -- if his body can hold up to that stress.