It was great to think about. The idea that Carlos Beltran could come back to the Royals after all these years, playing out the last few years of his career while possibly leading the Royals back to the postseason seemed like the type of storybook ending that only occurs in Hollywood. And yet, there the Royals were, in the thick of the Beltran sweepstakes as Royals fans dreamt of a reunion.
However, those hopes were dashed last night. Despite seemingly being out of the Beltran Sweepstakes after signing Jacoby Ellsbury, the New York Yankees inked the right fielder to a 3 year/$45 Million contract as they continue to remake their team.
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) December 7, 2013
Why did the Yankees make this move? Perhaps it was desperation after Robinson Cano signed with the Mariners, and the Yankees knew they needed to make a splash. Perhaps they truly feel that a 37 year old outfielder on a three year deal is better than what they already have for outfield/designated hitter (if so, they are probably correct). Meanwhile, it does not appear to actually solve any of the Yankees issues, such as second base and their pitching staff.
What this signing may have done, aside from disappoint legions of Royals fans, is save the Royals from themselves. Beltran returning would have been a great marketing moment, and provide a lot of sentimentality among the fanbase, but would he really be worth the investment? The track record of players similar to Beltran after age 36 would indicate that it is not.
In the end, the Yankees may have done the Royals a favor by signing Carlos Beltran. The recently acquired Norichika Aoki had a better WAR than Beltran did last year at a fraction of the cost. While the Royals still need another impact bat in their lineup, they do not need a player that could end up as a financial albatross over the next three seasons. Although the impact bats seem to be disappearing quickly in the free agent market, there is still the potential to make trades. With some of the players that the Royals could have available, as well as the potential to actually add payroll, they could still get the pieces they need.
If this was Hollywood, then Beltran would have come back to the Royals, led the team to a World Series title and departed off into the sunset. However, real life does not mirror the movies – and Beltran is not a guarantee to put up solid numbers in the next three seasons. As much as it may sting to lose him to the Yankees, the Royals may be better off without Carlos Beltran.