Beltran-to-Giants looking imminent

Wednesday, July 27

PHILADELPHIA — At this point, it would seem surprising if the Giants didn’t acquire outfielder Carlos Beltran from the New York Mets.

Giants general manager Brian Sabean isn’t dropping any hints, and his underlings are sworn to secrecy — unless they want their next job in baseball to feature rolling out the tarp for an independent league team. But given the national media buzz, along with Sabean’s reputation for obtaining the man (or men) he wants as the Trade Deadline approaches, Beltran might find himself spending an extra day or two in Cincinnati, where the Mets currently are playing. Conveniently, the Giants travel to Cincinnati for a weekend series beginning Friday.

Beltran would have a ripple effect through the Giants’ lineup. Depending on whether Beltran were to bat third or fourth, the hitters surrounding him in the batting order  — Jeff Keppinger, Pablo Sandoval, Nate Schierholtz — would see better pitches with him on deck or on base. As a switch-hitter, he might even enable manager Bruce Bochy to maintain some (gasp!) stability in the lineup.

Sabean doesn’t want to part with top prospects such as right-hander Zack Wheeler, outfielder Gary Brown or first baseman-outfielder Brandon Belt. That probably won’t be necessary. Conventional wisdom suggests that the Giants can seal the deal by sending the Mets three capable prospects.  According to the smart money, Double-A Richmond outfielder Francisco Peguero would be included in the package the Mets would receive. Peguero is a nice-looking hitter, but possesses relatively little power.

Speculation has fingered left-hander Dan Runzler, who has divided this season between the Giants and Triple-A Fresno, as somebody else who the Mets probably would want. That makes perfect sense. Except there’s that little matter of the $5 million club option on the 2012 contract of Jeremy Affeldt, another left-hander. Affeldt has performed well. But with pay hikes imminent for salary-arbitration-eligible players such as Tim Lincecum, Pablo Sandoval, Ryan Vogelsong, Sergio Romo, Nate Schierholtz and Jonathan Sanchez, among others, the Giants might elect not to pick up Affeldt’s option to save money to allocate to others. If that’s part of the Giants’ plan, they might be reluctant to part with Runzler — who would help sustain their inventory of left-handers — and would offer the Mets a different pitcher or two.

Then again, teams are forced to trade players they’d rather keep all the time.

Meanwhile, the existing Giants are continuing the day-to-day existence that has become habit for established big leaguers. Outfielder Cody Ross, whose playing time likely would decrease if Beltran arrived, insisted that he and his teammates aren’t dwelling on Sunday’s deadline.

“To be honest with you, we don’t really talk about it a whole lot,” Ross said Tuesday night. “With this particular club, we’ve been around, for the most part, for a while. I remember being a rookie, a second-year guy, and talking about trade deadlines. It was exciting. But now it’s just another day and we just go out and play. We can’t really worry about it. We have to make do with what we have and I think we have a pretty good team. We’re in first place, so, as long as we can stay there …”

Chris Haft

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