Analyst: “Carlos Beltran should be atop Detroit Tigers’ shopping list”

Analyst:

Zach Libby

With Prince Fielder heading to the Texas Rangers after one of the biggest blockbuster trades this offseason, the Tigers will now have flexibility in terms of improving their roster.

The Tigers are saving over $9 million over the next four seasons after dealing Fielder and his $214 million contract in exchange for second baseman Ian Kinsler. One position that Detroit will be in search of upgrading for next year is leftfield.

“Most of the baseball media has four names to fill the Tigers’ hole in leftfield, all of them free agents. Boston’s Jacoby Ellsbury, Cincinnati’s Shin-Soo Choo, St. Louis’ Carlos Beltran and the New York Yankees’ Curtis Granderson,” 97.1 The Ticket host Jamie Samuelson said on the Detroit Free Press. “Any one of the four would represent a clear upgrade over Andy Dirks. All also would represent a clear rise in salary as well.”

Samuelson describes Jacoby Ellisbury as one of the most coveted outfielders in the MLB. Ellisbury is also a young player, having just turned 30. He can play either left field or center field, as well as lead off in the batting order. The problem, according to Samuelson, is the amount of money necessary to pay Ellisbury.

“This is Ellsbury’s “Prince Fielder” moment to get a massive contract that will take him toward the twilight of his career. After getting out from under Fielder’s deal, I just can’t see the Tigers diving back into another $100-plus-million deal, which is what Ellsbury will demand,” Samuelson said. “The goal here is to free up flexibility for re-signing Scherzer and Cabrera. Signing Ellsbury prevents that. Plus, he has had a nagging issue with injuries. He has played more than 135 games only three times since breaking in with the Red Sox in 2007.”

Samuelson describes Shin-Shoo Coo as a player with a lot of power, but will also want a heavy contract. Another issue with Choo is that he does not play centerfield, so trading Austin Jackson wouldn’t be an option. Despite this, Choo would bring in a power-punch at the top of the Tigers’ lineup. Last season, Coo was second in the National League in OBP (.423).

Although there are a handful of players that can fill the void at leftfield, 36 year-old Carlos Beltran would be the best choice, according to Samuelson. Reports are showing that Beltran will be asking for a two-year contract in the price range of $36 million. Paying for a veteran for cheap would allow the Tigers to sign another key free agent this offseason, including relief pitcher Joe Nathan.

“He’s a switch-hitter and is still an able baserunner and fielder. Many baseball people don’t believe in the word clutch, that it’s an impossible gene to hold. I’d argue that Beltran is evidence to the contrary,” Samuelson said. “Both the Yankees and the Boston Red Sox reportedly are pursuing him, which might drive the price up just a bit. [2 years, $36 million] That’s a steep price but a short contract. Beltran would be the perfect choice for the Tigers and the name that (Dave) Dombrowski should pursue going forward.”