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The argument for a Red Sox - Yankees Carlos Beltran trade

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A Red Sox - Yankees deadline deal that's not just about exchanging unwanted names? What madness is this?!

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Carlos Beltran is a 39-year-old outfielder having his best season since 2011 in the friendly confines of New Yankee Stadium with an inflated BABIP and little remaining defensive ability.

And yes, the Red Sox would probably be a better team with him on board.

It's not hard to find reasons to nay-say Boston's involvement with the Yankees over Carlos Beltran. For one thing, it's the Yankees. For another, see all the reasons above. And finally, it's the Yankees. But for all that any discussions with New York might seem inherently unpalatable, Beltran is very much the sort of player who could actually be a significant improvement for the Red Sox and come at relatively little cost.

Could is probably the most important word there, though, because--and I don't know if I've mentioned this yet--it's the Yankees. The Yankees and the Red Sox aren't big fans of one another. On some level the century-long rivalry exists more in the minds of the fans than the front office, but even if they're not frothing at the mouth in Fenway and the Bronx, there's still the very real fact that both teams view the other as their primary competition in anything beyond the shortest of terms. The Yankees will be back, the Red Sox are fixing to stay, and neither one wants to make the other better

But let's say the Yankees are in full-on "take what we can get" mode for Beltran, buyer be damned. What, then, would the Red Sox be getting out of it?

Well, they'd be getting an answer in left field, to make a long story short. And yes, they absolutely need one. At this point, looking at Brock Holt and seeing a starting LF requires a certain level of denial. He started 2016 hitting to a 1.622 OPS in the first three games, then produced a line of just .214/.313/.250 for the rest of April, and not even managing that in May. He hit the DL, came back on fire in July--.387/.331/.742 through his first 31 at bats--and has just as quickly vanished agian, with a .200/.282/.229 line in 35 at bats since. He lasted a bit longer this time, and the samples still aren't large, but at some point the pattern has to be acknowledged. Holt starts hot and immediately wears down. We've seen it time and again, and never seen him actually just...last.

Expecting Beltran to bear the entire burden in left might also be something of a long shot at his age, but importantly, he wouldn't have to. Beltran would get all the starts vs. lefties, a fair few vs. righties, and move into the DH spot when David Ortiz is getting one of his (fairly frequent) days off. We're maybe looking at four-games-in-seven in left, with a fifth at DH. You can tweak those numbers as you like, but the general idea is there.

Importantly, they could also try and protect him from having to play too much left field when that field is wide open. The Sox don't play as many home games as you might like the rest of the way, but if they can potentially work Beltran's days off around the biggest outfields they face, the Sox could also hide his defensive deficiencies somewhat.

Even with those deficiencies taken into account, though, Beltran is still a valuable player. He's been worth 2.2 fWAR on the season thanks to a 134 wRC+. That figure would trail only David Ortiz and Jackie Bradley Jr.--and Sandy Leon depending on your minimum PA cutoffs--on the Red Sox. Not only is that a great bat to have in the starting lineup, but it's one of the most ridiculously threatening pinch-hitters you can imagine, even if Beltran regresses some.

So that's why the Sox should be willing to pay some small price for Beltran. But of course there's a reason for them not to pay anything too significant. In fact, there's two.

The first is Andrew Benintendi. Ideally the Red Sox would have some better grasp of what Benintendi can do in the majors before relying on him too much, but the fact is that they do have the option of simply calling their left fielder of the future up to make him the left fielder of the present. Professional baseball has yet to find a level of competition that's proved a challenge for him for more than two weeks, and after a ridiculous 4-for-5, two-homer night on Sunday, Benintendi finished July with a .329/.406/.635 line in just his second full month at Double-A. With Triple-A considered one of the least important stops in a developing player's trip to the majors, it would be a big surprise if the Sox didn't at least get Benintendi up at some point in the next month to make sure he was eligible for October should he force the issue.

The second is Chris Young. He's been out with injury for a long while, but lest we forget, when last we left the lefty-mashing outfielder, he was hitting a cool .277/.338/.508, even showing the ability to hold his own against right-handed pitchers to the point where the Sox were pretty happy with him as a full-time starter.

Neither in-house "answer" to left field is as much of a sure thing as Beltran would be, even at his age. Benintendi is untested, and Young has been out hurt for an awfully long time. But at the very least they allow the Red Sox to approach any Beltran deal as an interested party, but one that's completely willing to walk away with nothing. If the Yankees want to deal, and nobody else is looking to pay a premium for a 39-year-old rental, then they can make an opportunistic acquisition. If not, well, they've got options.