Beltran as Cano's replacement?

October, 15, 2013
10/15/13
11:00
AM ET
St. Louis CardinalsAP Photo/David J. PhillipThink Carlos Beltran has made a splash as Albert Pujols' replacement?
The Yankees could have interest in Carlos Beltran, just like many of the free agents this winter, but my initial read is he would be either a backup plan or an alternative to Robinson Cano.

If that ends up being the case, the Yankees would just be ripping a page out of the St. Louis Cardinals' successful playbook.

When Albert Pujols signed his 10-year, $240 million deal before the 2012 season, the Cardinals turned around and signed Beltran to a two-year, $26 million contract. They don't play the same position, but essentially it was a swap of one big bat for another.

Over the past two seasons, Beltran, now 36, has averaged 28 homers and an .836 regular-season OPS. Meanwhile, Pujols has averaged 23.5 homers and an .823 regular-season OPS. Cano, the past two years? He has averaged 30 homers and a .914 OPS.

If Cano leaves, the Yankees will need to replace his offense and there will be no one available to do that at second base. Cano will be able to demand top dollar because he has a unique set of skills for his position.

So the Yankees will have to look elsewhere to replace Cano. They could go after a more productive catcher. Another place is the outfield, where there are many choices from Jacoby Ellsbury to Shin-Soo Choo to their own Curtis Granderson. By end of next season's first month, Beltran will be 37, but for that reason his price will be lower. He also may be the best player of the group.

This is all enticing with the $189 million goal factoring into all offseason decisions.

So, yeah, Beltran could be a Yankee, but everything needs to fall just right. We will have more on Beltran soon as we Spend Hal's Money.
Andrew Marchand is a senior writer for ESPNNewYork. He also regularly contributes to SportsCenter, Baseball Tonight, ESPNews, ESPN New York 98.7 FM and ESPN Radio. He joined ESPN in 2007 after nine years at the New York Post. Follow Andrew on Twitter »

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Masahiro Tanaka
WINS ERA SO IP
13 2.77 141 136
OTHER LEADERS
BAJ. Ellsbury .271
HRB. McCann 23
RBIB. McCann 75
RB. Gardner 87
OPSB. Gardner .749
ERAH. Kuroda 3.71
SOH. Kuroda 146