What Could Have Been? Part One.

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‘Carlos Beltran Traded to the Red Sox/Yankees in 2004’

Now to preface, the Yankees ended up adding Carlos Beltran…however, much later on in his career. This article is going to date back to the year 2004, and this Carlos Beltran on the 2004 Royals was on his way out of Kansas City for the chance at Free Agency. The Kansas City Royals were looking to move him, but insisted that any trade would require a third baseman, and a catcher as the return. Then came the offers…

Two of the offers came from two bitter rivals from the American League East. The first team to offer were of the Red Sox who offered third baseman Kevin Youkilis and catcher Kelly Shoppach. Kevin Youkilis was well liked for his on-base percentage as he knew how to get on base, and was debuting in the Major Leagues getting his bat wet for the first time in his career which brought security in terms of contract length for the Royals. He was 25 years of age, and only improving at the time as he was a well sought after player. Kelly Shoppach now on the other hand was in the top 100 prospects, and was announced as an on-field general. His catching skills were well beyond his age, but his bat was something that was needed to be approved on which was something everyone thought would be the last to develop with him anyway. Kelly, according to BaseballAmerica, came in ranking in at number seventy-eight(78) on the top prospects in 2004. Carlos Beltran at the point he was traded was hitting .278 with an on-base percentage of .367. He would have been a massive improvement over Gabe Kapler who had a negative WAR for the 2004 season, and would have been put in right field with Johnny Damon manning centerfield, and Manny Ramirez manning left field.

Now we head on over to team two of the offering for Beltran. Enter the New York Yankees. The Yankees came in strong by offering Robinson Cano, who was still playing in the minors and was moved from second base to third to showcase for a trade, along with catcher Dioner Navarro. The Yankees were salivating at the idea of having Gary Sheffield in left field, Bernie Williams in centerfield, and Carlos Beltran in right field. They did have Kenny Lofton, Ruben Sierra, and Hideki Matsui as well so the Yankees not acquiring Carlos Beltran did not make them too worried all at the same time, they had nothing to lose here. Back to the prospects, and the deal, Robinson Cano only played four games at third base for this little tryout, but it would be a very short stint as the Royals moved on rather quickly with the three-way trade. Now with hindsight being 20-20, I have a quote from the then Royals General Manager, Allard Baird, “Cano showed an innate naturalness at third. Still we dealt Beltran to Houston in a three-way trade that netted us (Royals) John Buck, Mark Teahen and pitcher Mike Wood. Obviously, if you look back, he’s turned out to be a very good player. We thought he’d be a good player, but the package we got we thought was better. You look back and him alone would’ve made the deal worthwhile, but that’s hindsight.”

In these two deals between division rivals it was Cano that was the true diamond that was too much covered up in the rough. Robinson Cano is now in Seattle where he has been since he hit Free Agency back in 2014. Robinson has also gathered an amazing WAR of 65.2 while Beltran has gathered an exact 70 over their careers.

After all the rumors of Beltran potentially suiting up for one of the mega powers in the AL East, in the end the Royals sent Carlos Beltran to the Houston Astros out in the NL Central in a three team deal with the Oakland Athletics that brought Oakland third baseman Mark Teahen and pitcher Mike Wood to Kansas City along with Astros catcher John Buck.

Carlos Beltran would go on to have a great, long-lasting career. He is still currently playing for…the Houston Astros! However, in his second stint with the team as he did leave the Astros for the Mets in the off-season of 2004. Kevin Youkilis would go on to have a very solid career, gathering over 30 WAR, while every other names in this part would be mediocre pieces for a few teams. All in all, the Yankees did the best by not doing this deal. They kept Robinson Cano, and ended up dealing Navarro along with Javier Vazquez and Brad Halsey for the Big Unit, Randy Johnson on January 11th, 2005. The Red Sox ended up keeping Kevin Youkilis until dealing him off in 2012 to the Chicago White Sox to allow an upcoming prospect, Will Middlebrooks, to take over third base. Kelly Shoppach would end up being traded to the Cleveland Indians in 2006 in a deal that landed Boston CoCo Crisp. However, the Red Sox signed Kelly back in 2011, and dealt him yet again in 2012 to the New York Mets, almost for Jacob deGrom, but that is for another time. Thank you for reading!

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