The problem for the Mets, as they shop Carlos Beltran, is that they badly want to get a top-flight prospect in return, for two reasons:
1) Pragmatic/obvious. They don't have a very good farm system right now. They could use another elite player.
2) Public relations. Sandy Alderson and his crew represent a significant upgrade regarding the Mets' approach toward fan/media reaction. But that's not to say they're oblivious to it. They certainly don't mind executing fan-friendly moves.
Now back to the "problem" part. There isn't much confidence within the industry that the Mets will be able to deliver on their hope.
Here's how one official from a competing, contending team put it, on the condition of anonymity: "We like Beltran. But we like him for what he is, which is a rental for eight weeks with no draft pick compensation and a long injury history."
Translation: No top-flight prospect.
It won't be as fan-friendly, but the Mets might have to opt for quantity over quality. Take a few lower-level guys whom their scouts like, as opposed to one big name.
You know by now, from reading David Lennon's coverage, that Beltran would prefer to stay in the National League. And sure, Alderson wouldn't rule out trading Beltran to Philadelphia or Atlanta, but that's not ideal (see #2 above).
So I'll stick with the Giants as the most likely landing spot for Beltran. The Giants are willing to take on salary. Ultimately, if the Mets have to spin it as, "We'll use this payroll relief for our future signings, be it on the major-league level, the amateur draft or international free agents," ...then they'll have to spin it that way.
But for sure, they'd rather not. Mets fans have heard that song before. They'd prefer to hear the song in which a high-ceiling prospect arrives.
--Brian Cashman continues to search for lefty relief help, and the most intriguing name (to me, at least) is Florida's Randy Choate. A drafted Yankee, traded to Montreal after the 2003 season as part of the first trade for Javier Vazquez, Choate (now nearly 36) has limited lefty hitters to a .164 OBP and .155 SLG in 62 plate appearances. Last year, with Tampa Bay, he held lefties to a .263 OBP and .266 SLG in 138 plate appearances.
Choate is signed through next year; he's getting paid $1 million this season and $1.5 million in 2012, with another $150,000 available in incentives. That makes him a value buy, which means the Marlins feel like they can expect a good piece in return. If not, they can just bring him back next year for the opening of their new ballpark.
It also means this: It isn't necessarily only contenders that will be on him. Clubs that are out of it this season, but are planning for next year, also could make bids.
Cashman ultimately might have to ask himself this question: How badly do I need someone in my bullpen who can get out Adrian Gonzalez in a big spot? If it's badly enough, then Cashman will likely have to give up a significant, second-tier prospect.
(Although, for the record, Choate has limited experience against A-Gone, who's 1-for-3 with a single.)
--An industry source confirmed that the Phillies are interested in Jason Giambi, who is enjoying a great season with the disappointing Rockies. In addition to potentially giving the Phillies a power option off the bench, the type of pinch-hitter who will make opposing managers think about every move, Giambi also would be a strong fit in the Philadelphia clubhouse.
--Have a good night.