Look, I’m not going to pretend that I’m anywhere near the most knowledgeable dude on the planet when it comes to transactions, but I don’t get something that Buster Olney has been going on about for the past couple of days. Short version: his belief that Carlos Beltan’s contract clause that prevents teams from offering him arbitration after the season hurts his trade value.
On the one hand I totally understand that this forecloses teams from trading for him with the idea of offering him arb, letting him walk and getting draft pick compensation for their trouble. But wouldn’t such a gambit be outrageously risky here? Beltran is not in a situation where he can expect a raise in his annual salary once he signs as a free agent. Sure, he could get multiple years, but he’s not going to beat the $18.5 million he’s making right now on an annual basis.
Given what we’ve seen in the corner outfielder/DH market these past couple of years (i.e. low salaries or, in the case of Werth and Bay, high-dollar busts), isn’t it possible that Beltran would at least seriously consider accepting arbitration where, because of the nature of the beast, he’d make at least that $18.5 million and maybe a bit more?
And don’t tell me that Beltran is a Scott Boras client and he’d want to hit the market. The most famous arbitration burn of all time came when Greg Maddux — also a Boras client — unexpectedly accepted arbitration from the Braves before the 2003 season, gladly taking $14.75 million, knowing he’d never get that much on the open market.
So while it’s a moot point now because of that clause, ask yourself: how many teams would be willing to take the chance of having to pay Beltran more than $18.5 million in 2012 in order to get a pick or two? And if there aren’t many who would, how would the inability of those teams to do so negatively impact Beltran’s market? Maybe it’s a different story if he’s a $10-12 million player right now. But at $18.5 millions? Yikes.
He’s a rental player for almost every team. And he would be regardless of what his contract says about arbitration.