The Red Sox have made contact with free-agent outfielder Carlos Beltran, according to a team source, as they continue with their outfield permutations in the event of the loss of free-agent center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury.
Beltran, 36, played against Boston in the World Series with the St. Louis Cardinals. He has also garnered the same type of confirmed interest from the New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles and Philadelphia Phillies, and there may be others.
It doesn’t appear the Cardinals will ask him back, but he’s always been a player the Red Sox have coveted.
Before they signed Carl Crawford to a 7-year, $142 million in the offseason before the 2011 season, Beltran was high on Boston’s list to trade for when he was with the Mets. They probably regret not doing it.
The New York Post first reported Boston’s interest this time around, but the team source didn’t think they were overly aggressive at this stage. The Red Sox are still trying to formulate exactly how their outfield will be configured.
If they lose Ellsbury, there’s a possibility Shane Victorino could shift to center, which would make room for a right fielder like Beltran or a bid for Miami slugger Giancarlo Stanton.
Right now it’s very preliminary. The Red Sox are merely leaving their options open and contacting players who may fit each scenario.
The acquisition of Beltran would result in the loss of a draft pick since Beltran is most likely to turn down St. Louis’ $14.1 qualifying offer.
The issues with Beltran are obvious – he would have to play Boston’s large right field at age 36 with balky knees at a time when he should be used more as a DH.
The switch-hitter, who was much better from the left side last season (.315, 17 homers, 56 RBI as opposed to (.252, 7, and 28) from the right side, hit .296 with 24 homers and 84 RBI in 2013. He’s played in 16 seasons with 358 homers, 1,327 RBIs and a .283 career average.
Beltran has appeared in eight All-Star games and is a career .333 hitter with 16 homers and 41 RBIs in the postseason.
He injured his ribs while robbing David Ortiz of a grand slam in Game 1 of the World Series in Fenway, but he returned to play Game 2 and beyond. Beltran has said in the past that he’s open to playing in Boston.Follow Nick Cafardo on Twitter at @nickcafardo.