By Sean McAdam
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- When Sandy Alderson was hired as general manager of the New York Mets last month, the team let the rest of baseball world know that pretty much everyone on the roster was available at the right price -- as befits a franchise that hasn't reached the postseason since 2006, despite annually carrying one of the biggest payrolls.
That list, of course, includes Carlos Beltran, who is entering the final year of his seven-year contract with the Mets, which will pay him 18.5 million.
The Mets and Red Sox have talked -- at least a little -- about Beltran, given that the Sox have made it known that they're in the market for a right-handed hitting outfielder.
But Beltran's salary and the condition of his knees are significant sticking points to a deal. Beltran underwent surgery late last offseason and later got into a squabble with the club over whether he had their approval to do so.
Beltran missed the first half of 2010 recovering from the surgery and didn't get onto the field until the start of the second half of the season. He played in 64 games and hit .255 with 7 homers and 27 RBI.
It's worth noting, however, that in limited duty against lefties (55 plate appearances), Beltra posted a 1.009 OPS. Also, he closed strongly, slugging .603 and posting a .967 OPS overall in the final month.
Scouts offered varying opinions on the condition of Beltran's knees. A longtime National League scout said: "He took a little while to get up to full speed when I saw him. He didn't have that explosive first step. But I saw him run pretty well when he had to go after some balls in the outfield."
Other evaluators were less charitable in their assessment, and inside the Red Sox organization, there are concerns about how well Beltran would hold up - even for one season. He'll turn 34 in the spring.
The Mets, who are desperate to add starting pitching, have indicated an interest in moving Beltran for Daisuke Matsuzaka, but the Red Sox aren't the least bit interested in such a swap. They feel that moving Matsuzaka, with only Tim Wakefield as an option as the replacement fifth starter, isn't something they can afford to go given their starting pitching depth.
The Sox would also reportedly insist that the Mets take back some of the remaining 18.5 million in any deal, while the Mets, who are handcuffed financially, want teams to absorb the entire salary.
A matchup between the two, then, seems highly unlikely, though sources indicate it could get revived if neither team can make other moves.