|The Giants and the Mets, two National League clubs working toward different ends this season, remained active on the trade market by making a classic prospect-for-veteran swap. In its second trade this month, New York traded six-time all-star Carlos Beltran, possibly the best hitter available this summer, to San Francisco for 21-year-old righthander Zack Wheeler, a 2009 first-round pick who ranked No. 35 on our Midseason Top 50 Prospects ranking. The Mets also sent a reported $4 million to the Giants, a sum that would cover about two-thirds of Beltran’s remaining salary commitment. He cannot be offered arbitration, so the Giants stand to acquire no compensation draft picks if he departs as a free agent.
The Giants offense has scored the second fewest runs in the NL (3.60 per game) and ranks third worst in OPS+ (88), so no contender was more desperate for an offensive upgrade. (Pitching is a different story—among NL clubs, only the Phillies have a better team ERA and WHIP than do the Giants.) In the midst of his best season with the bat since 2006, Beltran leads the NL with 30 doubles, ranks second with 47 extra-base hits and third with 60 walks. He played in just 145 games during the 2009-10 seasons as he recovered from knee injuries that forced a move from center field to right. Beltran immediately becomes San Francisco’s top hitter.
About a week ago, the Giants traded two pitching prospects to the Astros for second baseman Jeff Keppinger, who has gone 4-for-17 (.235) in his first five games for San Francisco. At the all-star break, the Mets traded closer Francisco Rodriguez to the Brewers for two players to be named, signaling their intention to be active sellers. New York kicked in approximately $9 million in the Beltran and Rodriguez deals in an effort to enhance its prospect haul.
|Zack Wheeler, rhp
Born: May 30, 1990 in Dallas, Ga.
Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 180. Bats: R. Throws: R.
School: East Paulding HS, Dallas, Ga.
Career Transactions: Selected by Giants in first round (sixth overall) of 2009 draft; signed Aug. 17, 2009.
The sixth overall pick in 2009, Wheeler logged just 59 innings last season as he dealt with a cracked fingernail on his pitching hand—though he used the down time to iron out his pitching mechanics. A full recovery is evident in Wheeler’s performance this season. He ranks among the California League leaders in strikeout rate (10.0 per nine innings, fifth) and opponent average (.224, fourth). But while he’s given up just seven homers in 16 starts, he’s been too liberal with walks, handing out 4.8 per nine innings. Wheeler sits in the low- to mid-90s and can dial his plus fastball up to 96 mph with a quick, easy arm action. His curveball doesn’t always feature power or shape at this stage, and his changeup sometimes lacks finish, but he’s flashed plus with both pitches at various points. If Wheeler sharpens at least one of them to above-average status, he’s got front-of-the-rotation potential.
|Carlos Beltran, rf
Age: 34. Bats: B. Remaining Commitment: Approximately $6.5 million remains, of which Mets pay $4 million ($18.5 million salary for 2011; eligible for free agency after the season).
Contract details courtesy of Cot’s Baseball Contracts.