Carlos Beltran could be back in the Mets lineup as early as Monday, according to manager Jerry Manuel, though that seems like a best case scenario situation more than a realistic one. Regardless, simply putting out the word that Beltran could be back soon means that there is going to be a scramble to pick him up in leagues where he hasn't been stashed on the injured list all year. The fact he has recently started a rehab assignment is cause for excitement in the fantasy community, not just the Mets one.
That's a long shot in CBS leagues, as Beltran is owned 91 percent of the time there, though he is owned in just 68.8 percent of ESPN leagues. If you do have the opportunity to pick him up (or trade for him), should you, and what should you be expecting to get out of Beltran?
At the plate, Beltran is (normally) a beast. His weighted mean PECOTA projection had him at .291/.380/.502 this year, and last season he hit .325/.415/.500 before being shut down after 357 plate appearances. Even if he's not 100 percent at the plate, he should be able to produce better than many outfielders.
Given this is fantasy baseball though, you do not have time to see if he will hit or not—he's owned in nearly 70 of the more reactionary ESPN leagues, and he hasn't logged a plate appearance yet. Can you imagine what that number will look like if he goes three-for-four the first game he returns in? The safest thing to do, if you are in need of a center fielder (or another outfielder) is to acquire Beltran and assume he will hit. This is a bit riskier if you are making a trade for Beltran—you may want to limit your acquisition of him to the realm of freely available, unless you are desperate and that pool of talent is lacking.
What you may also want to assume is that Beltran will not be an asset to you for stolen bases. He swiped 23 and 25 bags in 2007 and 2008, and had 11 before calling it quits in 2009. He is currently walking around with a limp though, and is sporting a brace on his knee. Picking him up because you need help on the bases is not a wise decision. We as owners tend to freak out a bit when a speedster feels a twinge in his hamstring, never mind when they are openly supporting their leg with a brace that they need.
Will Carroll mentioned yesterday that the idea of Carlos Beltran becoming a designated hitter in the American League, assuming his knee cannot take the wear and tear of defense any longer, would be appealing to teams. There's no word yet on whether or not something like this will happen, as the Mets and Beltran currently have more questions than answers surrounding both himself, the other outfielders and the playing time situation, but it's something to keep in mind if you're in an NL-only league and your resources for acquiring Beltran are thin.