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Trade Deadline Recap: Giants Acquire Beltran, Give Up Wheeler

August 2, 2011

Despite boasting one of the best pitching staffs in the National League and a sputtering offense that has been plagued by injuries, the Giants have managed to remain in contention for the NL West title since the season began. Yet, if the team was going to make a serious push for the playoffs there was an overwhelming feeling that a bat (or several) would be needed prior to the trade deadline.

We’ve already taken a look at the middle infielders the team brought in via a pair of trades, but that wasn’t all the Giants were able to do before the deadline. The team went hard after one of the best bats made available this summer and after weeks of speculation that began at the All Star Break, they finally landed their man when they agreed on July 27th to send top pitching prospect Zack Wheeler to the New York Mets in exchange for right fielder Carlos Beltran.

Beltran, 34, is playing out the final year of a seven year contract he signed with the Mets prior to the start of the 2005 season, making him a free agent at season’s end. He’s enjoyed a big season thus far, batting .289/.391/.513 with 15 HR and 66 RBI in 353 at bats after missing most of the past two seasons due to knee injuries. Those same injuries ultimately are what forced the Mets to move him to an outfield corner as he simply does not have the ability to handle center field on an everyday basis anymore.

A clause found within Beltran’s contract does stipulate that the Giants will not be able to offer him arbitration at the end of the season, meaning there is no chance of the Giants recouping a pair of draft picks if he were to sign elsewhere. He is also owed roughly $6.5 Million over the remainder of the season. In the hopes of receiving a better prospect in return the Mets will cover just over $4 Million of that balance. Regardless, Beltran does make the Giants’ lineup instantly better and strengthens the team’s chances at reaching the post season.

The price for him, however, was not cheap as the team needed to give up one of its top prospects and one of the Top 50 in the game according to Baseball America’s midseason list.  Wheeler, 21, was the 6th overall pick in the 2009 Draft and has often been described by scouts as having front-of-the-rotation potential. He was limited to just 59.0 innings in 2010 due to a cracked fingernail so this season he’s only finding himself with High-A but his performance has been solid. In 16 starts totaling 88.0 innings he’s posted a 7-5 record, 3.99 ERA, and ranks among the California League leaders in K/9 (10.0) and opponent’s batting average (.224). For a Mets team lacking in high quality prospects Wheeler instantly becomes the team’s #1.

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