Carlos Beltran has been bad. Very, very, very bad, and at 38 years old, you have to wonder whether or not this is a really bad slump or if he's just done. The Yankees suffered through the same ordeal last year with Alfonso Soriano and ultimately, months too long, they determined that he was done. This year, if the Yankees want to keep winning like they have and stay up on the competition, they have to dump their spare parts before they end up hurting the team even more than they have. In other words, they need to dump Beltran now and the Miami Marlins have shown them exactly how to do it.
The Marlins signed Jarrod Saltalamacchia to a three-year, $21 million contract before the 2014 season, a deal that many people felt was way too much for someone like Salty–a situation that was all too familiar with the Yankees signing Beltran to their own three-year contract. Both players provided just-below league-average production in the first year of their deals and both have fallen off a cliff in the early goings of their second years. In order to clear themselves of a struggling player and bring in someone younger with more promise, the Marlins decided to designate Saltalamacchia for assignment even with $14 million still owed to him through next season. Yes, Beltran is owed nearly $30 million, but it still opens up the questions of whether or not it's simply worth it to cut ties and move on or bear down and try to squeeze the little value they can provide at this point. By DFAing Salty, the Marlins might be showing the Yankees that's it's ok to give up and it's ok to move on.
Now the Marlins will turn to the 24-year-old J.T. Realmuto as their everyday catcher and see what he has to offer them. Yes, it might be easier for a team like the Marlins to go with youth than it is for the Yankees, but Miami is currently only two games under .500 and with the Nationals struggling, there's plenty of opening in the NL East to still make a push to compete. The Yankees, meanwhile, seem to be rolling right along even as Beltran continues to struggle. They can strengthen their team as a whole by cutting ties with Beltran now and bringing in someone younger who could potentially help the team for a few months before the trade deadline.
At the moment, Ramon Flores and Slade Heathcott (yes really) have been hitting the ball extremely well this year. Flores is at .281/.369/.579 with four home runs in 15 games while Slade is hitting .342/.386/.461 in 18 games at Triple-A. Neither are likely to hit that well at the big league level and as left-handed hitters they take away from the team's approach against lefties, but Chris Young also needs more playing time and any situation they can come up with is likely better than watching Carlos Beltran continue to fall apart.
There is a huge difference in money owed, but the thought process is still the same–he's struggling too much; can he turn it around; can someone do a better job; it's time to pull the plug–and there's no real bad scenario that can come from this. Maybe Saltalamacchia will go back to Boston and start hitting again, but at that point you've already made your decision and you have to live with it. The Marlins can because they have someone ready to replace him. The Yankees might not have their no. 2 prospect ready to hit at the major league level, but they have enough options to at least take a chance, plug in some pieces, and see what works. Whether they cut ties with Beltran now, in July, or keep him all year, they'll be players at the trade deadline anyway, so you might as well get the most value you can at the position of need. The Marlins are doing that and the Yankees should follow suit.