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Red Sox among final four suitors for Carlos Beltran

The Red Sox are one of the last teams in on Carlos Beltran, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to be cheap.

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Texas Rangers Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Carlos Beltran’s market is down to four teams, with the Red Sox among his final suitors. According to Joel Sherman, the Sox are up against the Yankees, Astros and, to a lesser extent, the Rangers for the services of the aging slugger.

For the Red Sox, Beltran has long since emerged as their primary target to replace David Ortiz at DH. And while he’s not exactly the most exciting of targets, he is perhaps the best available player in the price range the Red Sox are looking for—which is to say, the best available for significantly less than the $100-odd million it might take to land Edwin Encarnacion.

That being said, if he’s the best, he’s probably just the first among many near-equals, each with their own red flags. There’s no perfect answer for Boston this year if they’re keeping their wallets in check. And that makes Sherman’s scenario of a potential bidding war pushing Beltran’s market into the $15-to-$18 million, or possibly even multi-year range rather concerning.

While we’ve already touched on the question of two years for Beltran—and why it might not be quite as important as all that given the upcoming free agent markets—there’s still a very real opportunity cost involved if Beltran’s salary does rise up into that range, the difference between him and one of those other decent options could start to be the difference between, say, bringing back Brad Ziegler and settling for a reclamation project in the bullpen. The Red Sox do run on a budget, and this year that budget seems reasonably tight. If Beltran is going to cost them a bunch of extra cash, they have to be pretty sure he’s worth it. And given all the question marks around him, it’s a bit hard to see how that logic would work out unless John Henry and co. are willing to front a short-term bill for both.