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Source: Red Sox have interest in Carlos Beltran but fit is a concern

11.08.13 at 8:34 am ET
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An industry source confirmed to WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford that the Red Sox “really like” free agent outfielder Carlos Beltran, but noted that the Sox also view the 36-year-old as a “tough squeeze” for two reasons. First, as a corner outfielder, Beltran would not address the most pressing vacancy created should center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury leave via free agency (at a time when the team has Shane Victorino as a Gold Glove defender in right). He’s a bit of an imperfect roster fit for a team that already has three strong corner outfielders in Victorino, Daniel Nava and Jonny Gomes.

(Victorino has experience playing center field, but Red Sox GM Ben Cherington said on Monday that while such a shift was an option, it was not a course of first resort. “It’s certainly one possibility and as we look at alternatives in the outfield, we have to be open-minded. That would be one possibility,” said Cherington. “I think I speak for [manager John Farrell] that we both recognize just how good he was in right field this year and how valuable his defense was in right field. So I guess we’d have to be compelled to move him. It would have to be a  pretty compelling opportunity, but you can’t rule that out. He’s capable of doing it.”)

Meanwhile, because Beltran received a one-year, $14.1 million qualifying offer from the Cardinals, the Red Sox would have to sacrifice a draft pick in order to sign him — something that also represents a drawback from the Sox. However, while the team would have to surrounder a draft pick to sign Beltran, it would get one back if another team signs center field Jacoby Ellsbury — an outcome that would be virtually assured if Beltran is signed — and/or Stephen Drew or Mike Napoli, all three of whom received qualifying offers from the Red Sox.

The New York Post’s George King was the first to report the Sox’ interest in the switch-hitting outfielder, writing that, according to someone who knows Beltran, the Red Sox have been more aggressive in pursuing the 36-year-old than fellow American League teams Baltimore and New York.

An eight-time All-Star, Beltran hit .296/.339/.491 with 24 home runs, 84 RBIs in 2013, the second year of a two-year, $26 million deal. Beltran is a career .333/.445/.683 hitter in the postseason with 16 home runs, 41 RBIs. He hit .268 this postseason, including .294 in the World Series, which he played with bruised ribs after hitting the right-field fence while robbing David Ortiz of a grand slam in Game 1 at Fenway Park.

In 16 major league seasons with the Royals (1998-2004), Astros (2004), Mets (2005-11), Giants (2001) and Cardinals, Beltran has a .283/.359/.496 line with 358 home runs and 1,327 RBIs.

The Sox have harbored considerable interest in him on multiple occasions in the past, including attempts to acquire him from the Royals prior to the trade deadline in 2004 and another run at landing him from the Mets in 2011.

Rob Bradford and Alex Speier contributed to this report.

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