In April, Carlos BeltrA?n will be 40 years old. He will also be at the beginning of his 20th Major League Baseball season. A season that will begin and end with the Houston Astros, a club he last played for in 2004. But for a better part of the last 12 years, Astros faithful haven’t been his biggest fans. This stems from the winter of 2005, when BeltrA?n opted for the New York Mets (and a seven-year contract in excess of $120 million).
Yet it wasn’t necessarily just the money. Sure it’s possible (and extremely likely) that BeltrA?n and his agent, Scott Boras, were using Houston to gain leverage in other contract talks. It’s almost as if Boras wasa��gasp!a��doing his job as an agent. But a potential full no-trade clause was something the Astros would not commit to, despite reports suggesting Boras was content with Houston’s seven-year offer (of roughly $110 million) for his client.
Whether any of this is true is irrelevant now, but his production that would follow would be difficult to ignore. In his final two full seasons with the Mets, BeltrA?n would play in only 64 and 81 games, respectively. But during his seven-year stint overall, held a triple-slash of .280/.369/.500 (.869 OPS) adding 208 doubles, 149 home runs, and 100 stolen bases (with a success rate of 86 percent) along the way.
And last season at age 39, BeltrA?n continued to produce, hitting .295/.337/.513 (.850 OPS) with 33 doubles and 29 home runs. He doesn’t steal bases anymore, and should feature more at DH than in the outfield now, but it’s hard to find fault with Houston committing $16 million to him. Oh, and now he’s got that full no-trade clause.
Now can Houston expect a line similar to .258/.368/.559 (.927 OPS) with 23 home runsa��that he put up in only 90 gamesa��back in 2004? Or, if Houston makes the postseason, production anywhere within the realm of the outrageous .436/.532/1.025 (1.556 OPS)a��not to mention eight home runsa��the very same year? Maybe not. Okay, well, almost certainly not. But if it’s anything close to what he put up last season between New York and Texas, Houston will be just fine.
And this time around, BeltrA?n doesn’t need to be the guy to put the Astros over the top. Instead, he joins a lineup featuring quite a potent offense. One that may line up like this more often than not next season:
One possible Astros 2017 lineup combo:
a�� Brian McTaggart (@brianmctaggart) December 3, 2016
That’s more than enough on paper, even if BeltrA?n isn’t at his best. And while we mentioned that he should probably feature more at DH next season, he was adequate in the outfield. No defensive metric painted him in a positive light, but adequate is just fine for a 40-year-old.
So while no team wins the World Series in winter, Houston looks threatening. Plus a positive season from BeltrA?n will go a long way in silencing countless fans who have jeered him since 2005a��even if we can admit most of said jeering is irrational. After all, he may end up finishing his career there.