The Red Sox have made contact with free agent outfielder Carlos Beltran, according to a team source, as they continue with their outfield permutations in the event of losing Jacoby Ellsbury as a free agent.
Beltran, 36, who played against Boston in the World Series for the Cardinals, has also drawn interest from the Yankees, Orioles, and Phillies, and there may be others.
It doesn’t appear that the Cardinals will have him back, and he has long been a player the Red Sox coveted. Before they signed Carl Crawford to a seven-year, $142 million deal before the 2011 season, Beltran was high on their list to trade for when he was with the Mets.
Beltran has said in the past that he’s open to playing in Boston.
The New York Post first reported the Sox’ interest this time around, but the team source didn’t think they were being aggressive at this stage.
The Red Sox are still trying to formulate exactly how their outfield will be configured. If they lose Ellsbury, Shane Victorino could shift to center, which would make room for a right fielder like Beltran or perhaps Miami slugger Giancarlo Stanton.
Since Beltran was made a $14.1 million qualifying offer by St. Louis — which he is likely to turn down — signing him would cost a team a draft pick.
The issue with Beltran in Boston is obvious: He would have to play Fenway’s large right field at age 36 with balky knees — a time when he should be used more as a DH.
The switch-hitting Beltran was much better from the left side last season, hitting .315 with 17 homers and 56 RBIs, as opposed to .252, 7, and 28 from the right side. Overall, he hit .296 with 24 homers and 84 RBIs. In 16 seasons, he has 358 homers, 1,327 RBIs, and a .283 career average.
Beltran has appeared in eight All-Star Games and is a career .333 hitter with 16 homers and 40 RBIs in the postseason.
He sustained a rib injury while robbing David Ortiz of a grand slam in Game 1 of the World Series in Fenway, but he returned to play Game 2 and beyond.