Although the Giants are sitting comfortably in first place in their division, the defending World Series champs have still managed to give fans fits this season with their anemic, light-hitting lineup that is absent of a truly feared hitter.
That changed Wednesday.
The Giants agreed to a trade to acquire New York Mets slugger Carlos Beltran, a six-time All-Star enjoying a resurgent 2011 season.
Beltran is expected to join the team today in Philadelphia.
To get the much-needed power hitter, the Giants were willing to part with 2009 sixth-overall draft pick Zack Wheeler.
Beltran is still owed $6 million of his $18.5 million annual contract this season, but sources said the Mets will absorb all but $2.5 million as part of the trade.
As for the 21-year-old Wheeler, he is considered one of the top prospects in baseball and owns a 7-5 record with Class-A San Jose this year.
After struggling the past two years with injuries, Beltran has had a standout 2011 season, batting .289 with 15 home runs, 66 RBIs and a league-leading 30 doubles. Beltran, who sat out the Mets game on Wednesday in anticipation of the trade, would immediately become one of the most dangerous hitters for the Giants.
The defending World Series champs have struggled mightily on offense, ranking 27th out of 30 teams in the majors in runs scored. The Giants’ 66 homers rank 24th in the league, and no player on the team has more than nine dingers this year.
Beltran has already proven he can hit in the pitching-friendly confines of AT&T Park. The switch-hitter boasts a .310 average and 11 doubles in 22 career games at the Giants’ ballpark, though he has yet to go deep.
The addition of Beltran would add one more player to an already-glutted Giants outfield. Nate Schierholtz, enjoying a stellar 2011 season, is the team’s current starting right fielder, the position Beltran plays. With Schierholtz likely to stay in the lineup, Beltran’s acquisition will result in fewer at-bats for fellow outfielders Andres Torres, Cody Ross and Aaron Rowand.
By trading for Beltran, the Giants have picked up their most prominent hitter since Barry Bonds. Bonds was the last Giant to hit more than 30 home runs in a season, accomplishing that feat in 2004 when he smacked 45 homers.
A lifetime .282 hitter, Beltran has 295 homers and 1,128 RBIs in his career.
A new home
By joining the Giants, Carlos Beltran will immediately become the team’s most feared hitter. Here’s a comparison of how his 2011 stats match up with the team’s current leaders.
|Beltran||Current Giants leader|
|Home runs||15||9 (Aubrey Huff and Pablo Sandoval)|
|Runs||61||39 (Andres Torres)|
|Slugging percentage||.513||.489 (Sandoval)|
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly referenced a report that Pat Burrell would be released and Brandon Belt would be moved to Triple-A Fresno.