While Phillies watch approaching trade deadline, Giants acquire Mets' Beltran

The Giants will officially acquire Carlos Beltran from the New York Mets on Thursday. (Lynne Sladky/AP)
The Giants will officially acquire Carlos Beltran from the New York Mets on Thursday. (Lynne Sladky/AP)
Posted: July 28, 2011

They sat in the visitors clubhouse at Citizens Bank Park on Wednesday, the very place they drenched themselves with champagne nine months ago en route to a championship, and quietly the word spread among Giants players. Some fiddled with their iPads and could find the news there. In the manager's office, Bruce Bochy was coyly asked if he could be persuaded to surrender his uniform No. 15 to his newest player.

"Nothing a Rolex can't fix," Bochy joked.

They could smile because Carlos Beltran was coming and joining their roster, not that of their opponents. He will arrive in Philadelphia and most likely bat third and play right field for San Francisco on Thursday. Immediately, he is the team leader in almost every offensive category.

"I guess I don't have to talk about Beltran no more, do I?" Charlie Manuel said across the field in the home dugout.

The Giants will officially acquire Beltran, who had to waive his no-trade clause, from the New York Mets on Thursday, and the first puzzle piece in this slow-moving trade deadline has fallen. The Phillies remain interested observers.

The price for Beltran was steep: San Francisco dealt its top pitching prospect in Zack Wheeler and reportedly chipped in $2 million on Beltran's salary - all for what could be a two-month rental. The Phillies were interested in Beltran but apparently not smitten enough to offer a comparable package. Wheeler was rated the 55th-best prospect in the game by Baseball America this past winter. Jarred Cosart, the Phillies' top young pitcher, was ranked 70th. Both are 21 years old.

The repercussions of the Mets' lucrative snag could change the Phillies' approach in the next three days before Sunday's 4 p.m. deadline. The market for impact bats is limited. If it cost that much to acquire a two-month rental, the price is rising for controllable talent such as Houston's Hunter Pence, Chicago's Carlos Quentin, and Tampa Bay's B.J. Upton.

All three of those players are not without faults. Pence, 28, has an increased strikeout rate and a low walk rate. His 11 home runs are two fewer than Raul Ibanez's. It's not even known if Quentin, 28, is available because the White Sox remain in the thick of the weak American League Central race and already cleared almost $10 million in payroll with Wednesday's trade of pitcher Edwin Jackson. And the enigmatic Upton, 26, has clashed regularly with Rays management while hitting just .227 with a .702 OPS this season.

An ESPN.com report suggested that the Phillies and Astros had a deal in place for Pence, with the Phillies trading a package of Cosart, top position player prospect Jonathan Singleton, and another unnamed minor-league pitcher. But Houston general manager Ed Wade backed away from the trade, the report said, wanting four "sure-thing players."

And that demand could be even higher now, requiring major-league talent such as Domonic Brown or Vance Worley to be included in a package.

"When somebody goes off the market like Beltran, then you say: 'OK, if he's off the market that reduces the pool out there,' " Phillies senior adviser and Hall of Famer Pat Gillick said. "So whoever we're talking to, you might have to up the ante because there's one less guy out there."

That's why the Phillies could opt for a complementary bat and instead refine the bullpen with an arm such as San Diego's Mike Adams. The bullpen has been a relative strength thus far, but uncertainty about young arms Antonio Bastardo and Michael Stutes come October prompts a need for depth.

The path the Phillies follow is still undecided. They know only that Beltran has arrived to boost the team that ended their dreams last season.

"This guy is a tremendous all-around player," Bochy said. "He's one of the elite players in the game."

And the Phillies would have to wait another day to possibly gush about a new player.


Contact staff writer Matt Gelb

at mgelb@phillynews.com or @magelb on Twitter.

 

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