Mets Trade Talk Centers on Carlos Beltran

K-Rod isn't looking to be a setup guy

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    That shirt could be a collector's item in the near future.

    Terry Collins was joking when he approached Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran after Sunday's game and told them not to go trading themselves while they were on their way to Phoenix for the All-Star Game.

    Like many jokes, though, there's a kernel of truth in it. While it seems like Reyes is going to finish the year in a Mets uniform (hopefully not while simultaneously on the disabled list), Beltran's future is a lot cloudier when it comes to what colors he'll be wearing come the end of the year.

    Keeping him would help the team on the field, obviously, but trading him is the only way the Mets will be able to stock up for the post-Beltran future. They are contractually barred from offering him arbitration, which means that they won't be getting draft picks when he leaves as a free agent.

    Beltran told reporters in Phoenix that he would be open to a trade to a contending team, while also maintaining that the Mets are in contention at present. Other teams can describe themselves that way a bit more realistically, however, and that gets us back to Collins's little joke.

    The Giants gave Beltran and Reyes a ride to Arizona and it is starting to seem like Bruce Bochy has a little bit of a crush on the Mets right fielder. He chose him to play in the game over better candidates, namely Andrew McCutchen of Pittsburgh, and announced Monday that he'll be starting at designated hitter on Tuesday night.

    Beltran fits a big need for the Giants because he's a capable offensive player and he fits their general organizational framework because he's the kind of certified veteran that G.M. Brian Sabean has always favored. Whether they will offer enough for the Mets to pull the trigger remains to be seen, but it is looking like Beltran is the team's best chance to reel in future contributors.

    Francisco Rodriguez's new agent Scott Boras also met with reporters on Monday and he made it pretty clear that K-Rod isn't looking to be a setup man in another team's bullpen. He only has a no-trade clause covering 10 teams so the Mets still can deal him but K-Rod's contract option for next year means that will be hard. 

    They'll have to find a team that K-Rod can't block and that is willing to risk the chance he won't hit the 55-games-finished mark that triggers his $17.5 million salary for 2012 and willing to deal with the chance that he'll be unhappy about coming to their team. Maybe they can pull that off, but it seems hard to imagine they'll get much in return.

    Keeping him and simply making sure he won't get to 55 games finished isn't much of an idea, either. Even without Boras, the union would surely file a grievance if the Mets just dropped a reasonably successful K-Rod as closer. With Boras in the picture, that's guaranteed.

    There are other modest candidates for a trade, Jason Isringhausen and Tim Byrdak, but no one is going to bring in a return equal to Beltran. In other words, enjoy watching Beltran in a Mets uniform because you might not get many more chances.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.