Carlos Beltran, one of the Yankees' presumed targets this winter, is reportedly seeking a two- or three-year deal when he signs with his next team this offseason. Beltran turned down longer deals when he accepted a two-year contract from the St. Louis Cardinals before 2012; this time, he's going to be looking for additional security as he approaches 40 years old.
The injury history on Beltran is not very far removed, as he played less than 90 games in both 2009 and 2010 with the Mets and Giants, respectively. His health was improved more recently with the Cardinals, but he was forced to miss 28 games along the way. That alone wouldn't be a reason to stay away from Beltran, but adding him to an aging group of injury prone players that are all at or nearing their twilight years could be detrimental when considering a contract that exceeds two years.
Making another trip to the playoffs is one of Beltran's biggest goals when signing his next contract, but he's going to cost that team a draft pick after turning down the Cardinals' qualifying offer. Beltran will turn 37 years old as the 2014 season begins, and committing four years to that could end up costing much more than a pick for a team without much flexibility. His October run proved that Beltran can still be a valuable player, but any team with intentions of signing him is going to have to weigh the costs of an older player playing on bad knees at age 40.
Jacoby Ellsbury and Shin-Soo Choo, the other big outfield names on the market, would each command a deal that exceeds four years by a decent margin. Teams in need of an outfielder will have to decide whether youth or experience will be the ticket to putting their team on the right track. For teams ready to win right now, Carlos Beltran might be a good pickup. By all accounts, he's a fantastic teammate and a tremendous October presence. He doesn't come without a gamble. Committing more years and more money to Ellsbury or Choo might make sense for a team that hopes to contend now and for years to come, but tying up so much money in one player isn't always in a teams' best interest.
If Beltran's next deal is going to have to be a three- or four-year contract, do you hope the Yankees stay away? Or are you okay with paying a player of his experience level for a few more years than he might be useful? The outfield situation in New York is bleak and it's hard to imagine another aging player on a contract that exceeds his usefulness is the best way to turn that around.