Oct 22, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; St. Louis Cardinals right fielder Carlos Beltran during practice the day before game one of the 2013 World Series against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

CARLOS BELTRAN! Carlos Beltran? Carlos Beltran.: What to Make of the Beltran Rumors

Carlos Beltran was in Kansas City yesterday – and maybe the last two days – to talk contract with the Kansas City Royals. Rumors suggest Beltran has a three-year, $48 million deal in hand and that the Royals are the only team willing to give him that third year.

How important that third year is to Beltran is probably the key to any deal. One would think Boston or Seattle would be willing to give him more annually than what Kansas City is offering, but if Beltran is set on getting the extra year then KC would be the far and away leader for him.

What do we make of this? Is this good or bad for the Royals? The key may be what the Royals do with Billy Butler.

Should Beltran sign with the Royals then club would have to figure out what to do with Butler, particularly the designated hitter spot. Expecting Beltran to play 150 games in Kauffman Stadium’s right field is a lot to ask of a 36-year-old. The natural expectation then would be to trade Butler so as to make the designated hitter spot a revolving door for Beltran, Salvador Perez, and others to get partial days off. Eventually, Beltran would become the full-time designated hitter as some of the Royals outfield prospects start to hit the majors.

If the Royals were to trade Butler then Kansas City may have a good deal in place with Seattle.

Franklin plus an arm – maybe someone like James Paxton – would be a solid trade for the Royals that would bet the Royals budget and long-term needs at the position. Franklin is a soon to be 23-year-old second baseman who has a solid bat and developing defensive skills. His He’d be under club control for five more seasons, too, which would make him very appealing to the Royals.

Paxton, a left-handed starting pitcher – ranks third on the Mariners top prospects list from Baseball Prospectus ($$) and is major league-ready should the Royals want to insert him into the rotation this season. KC would control his rights for six years at least, depending on when they decided to bring him up to the majors.

The only problem with this deal is that it would hinge on the Mariners signing Robinson Cano, which seems surprisingly closer to possible than one would think. New York just signed Jacoby Ellsbury to a $150 million deal Tuesday and is near an agreement with Kelly Johnson. Reports also suggest the Yankees have an offer out of Omar Infante.

Meanwhile, Seattle is set on adding as much hitting as possible, including Cano. Their involved in offers for Matt Kemp as well as rumored to be interested in Butler. Buster Olney noted that many in the industry felt like Seattle could be a big player in free agency this offseason and that is looking to be the case.

Should the Royals be able to turn Butler into a starting second baseman and starting pitcher then trading Butler would make sense. Cheaper free agent options like Mark Reynolds, Grady Sizemore, Mike Morse, Kendrys Morales, and Travis Hafner exist if the Royals want to find a part-time platoon designated hitter for when Beltran plays the field. This is to say there are options out there that make the Royals better even if Butler is traded.

Ultimately, here’s what matters at the end: Are the Royals more productive at second base, right field, and designated hitter as a threesome than they were projected to be for the next three years?

Kansas City needs to improve on the Chris Getz/Billy Butler/David Lough tandem if they are going to sign Beltran. Who the third person in the Emilio Bonifacio/Beltran/??? tandem is the key to the whole deal.

Tags: Kansas City Royals

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