The Houston Astros aren’t messing around this offseason. After working themselves into contention after nearly a half-decade of rebuilding, they are aggressively pursuing something greater in 2017. That pursuit continued on Saturday, as ESPN’s Buster Olney reported they have agreed to a one-year, $16M contract with free agent Carlos Beltran.
The addition of Beltran comes on the heels of Houston acquiring catcher Brian McCann in a trade with the New York Yankees and signing Josh Reddick to a four-year contract. They are obviously looking to bulk up an offense that already possessed some dangerous hitters. Now the lineup will be much deeper, which will create difficult matchups and sleepless nights for managers in the AL West.
Beltran, who will turn 40 in April, is making his second stop in Houston. He was a trade addition in 2004, helping Houston get to within one victory of a World Series appearance. Beltran put up historic numbers that postseason, hitting .435/.536/1.022 with eight home runs and 14 RBIs over 12 games. He ended up moving on quickly though after Beltran and agent Scott Boras were insulted by Houston offering a limited no-trade clause during contract negotiations. He ended up signing a seven-year contract with the New York Mets.
Worth noting, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reported Beltran received a full no-trade clause in his new deal. Perhaps that’s a make good for previous hard feelings.
On the field, Beltran is obviously a very player now. He’s been splitting his time between designated hitting duties and right field, which is exactly the role he’s expected to have in Houston. He’s still a very good hitter though as his 280/.325/.451 batting line suggests.
He shouldn’t be counted on for huge power numbers, though he did hit 29 homers between the Yankees and Rangers last season. He won’t contribute much on the base paths, but he’s a seemingly perfect fit for a team that’s nearing something special. Beltran will compliment the many young and dynamic players Houston has in its lineup, while providing another respected hitter in the lineup and respected presence in the clubhouse.
Looking at the bigger picture, Beltran’s signing changes more than the Astros landscape offensively, it also changes the landscape of free agency. The Astros were believed to be front runners for slugger Edwin Encarnacion. That clearly changes now, leaving the Yankees, Red Sox and perhaps the Blue Jays in position to swoop in there.
Beltran represents a big piece of the offseason puzzle. Now we anxiously await to see where the next piece fits in.