NEW YORK -- Carlos Beltran is on the verge of following
Pedro Martinez to the New York Mets.
A day after the All-Star outfielder let the deadline to re-sign
with Houston pass, he reached a preliminary agreement Sunday night
on a $119 million, seven-year contract with the Mets that includes
an $11 million signing bonus.
"We have good-faith terms, and we're working toward the final
agreement," Beltran's agent, Scott Boras said. "We're near the
end of it, but not quite complete."
The Mets, who haven't made the playoffs since 2000, just last
month lured Martinez from the Boston Red Sox with a $53 million,
four-year deal. They declined comment on their talks with Beltran.
According to the New York Times, it was the addition of Martinez that initially piqued Beltran's interest.
"Now that you have Pedro, I'm interested," Carlos Beltran told the Mets last week, according to The Times.
New York and Boras spent Sunday negotiating the salaries for
each season, the amount of deferred payments and the schedule of
when the money will be paid.
Beltran was due to come to New York for a physical Monday. The
sides intended to announce the deal Tuesday -- the last day before a
change in federal rules makes signing bonuses subject to increased taxes.
"I'm very satisfied because we reached a deal," Beltran told the Puerto Rican newspaper Primera Hora. "The Mets showed genuine interest all the way and were willing to commit the way I wanted them to."
Beltran addressed the concern he might not thrive in the glare of the Big Apple spotlight in an interview with the New York Post.
"There's a lot of people saying because I played my whole career in Kansas City I'm a guy who likes small market teams," Beltran told the Post. "I have said this and I believe this: I can play anywhere I go. I know I can play anywhere because I have confidence in myself and my abilities."
And borrowing from a decades-old marketing slogan, Beltran sounds as if he and his family will fit in fine.
"I love New York," Beltran told the Post. "When I played for Kansas City, I always liked going to New York and so did my wife."
The Mets might not be done spending big money. Beltran called fellow Puerto Rican and free agent Carlos Delgado on Sunday, according to The Times, in an attempt to help lure the slugging first baseman to the Mets.
He is likely selling Delgado on what he sees in New York.
"I like the plan [the Mets] have," Beltran told the Post. "They're going in the right direction. They have made moves now that show that they'll be a different Mets team than they've been."
Beltran, who helped Houston come within a victory of its first
World Series last year, will became the 10th player in baseball
history to agree to a deal worth $100 million or more -- and the first to switch teams for a nine-figure contract since Jason Giambi got a $120 million, seven-year contract
from the New York Yankees in December 2001.
A source familiar with the negotiations told ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney that the talks with Houston fell through Saturday night because the team would not give Beltran a full no-trade clause. Beltran and his agent, Scott Boras, were OK with the seven-year, $108 million deal from the Astros. But the offer included a "limited" no-trade clause -- a stipulation that turned out to be the breaking point of those talks.
"That [no-trade clause] was one aspect, but there certainly were other parts,"
Astros owner Drayton McLane said. "They were trying to see which was the best deal they
could get. We were close, but there were a number of issues that
had to be resolved that never came together. There were just too
many things going on."
The source also told Olney that despite numerous calls from Boras, the Yankees never submitted an offer for Beltran.
Through an unnamed, high-ranking baseball official, the Associated Press reported Boras proposed a $100 million, six-year contract for Beltran to the Yankees on Saturday night. While the Yankees told Boras they thought highly of Beltran, they turned down the offer because they didn't want to commit $140 million -- $100 million in salary and $40 million in luxury tax.
His average salary of $17 million will tie Houston's Jeff
Bagwell for the seventh-highest, trailing only Alex Rodriguez
($25.2 million), Manny Ramirez ($20 million), Derek Jeter ($18.9
million), Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds (both $18 million) and Jason
Giambi ($17.1 million).
Houston offered a guaranteed $100 million, seven-year contract,
which included a $14 million option for 2012 with a $2 million
buyout, an Astros executive said Sunday on condition of anonymity.
If the option were exercised, the deal would have been worth $112
million over eight seasons.
Another person in the talks, also speaking on condition of
anonymity, said Astros owner McLane raised the guaranteed
offer to $108 million Saturday night, but that figure was disputed
by the Astros executive and McLane did not wish to discuss the
money. McLane turned down Beltran's demand for a no-trade clause,
which became an obstacle to a deal, perhaps a fatal one.
"The serious parts of this only happened in the last six
hours," Astros general manager Tim Purpura said during a
late-night news conference Saturday. "Really, I think we ran out
of time. Mostly, it's time and distance. Certainly I regret the
fact that we didn't deal with some of these things earlier -- but we
didn't control the pace of the negotiations."
Astros officials said an agreement was difficult to get in place
Saturday night because of the logistics: Team staff was at the
ballpark, McLane was at his home in Temple, Boras was at his home
in Newport Beach, Calif., and Beltran was in Puerto Rico.
It's been a tough offseason for the Astros. All-Star second
baseman Jeff Kent signed with the Dodgers, pitcher Wade Miller was
let go and signed with Boston, and All-Star outfielder Lance
Berkman severely hurt a knee playing flag football, an injury that
will cause him to miss the start of the season.
Also, Houston is trying to persuade Roger Clemens not to retire.
The 42-year-old has said he would make a decision this month.
"Certainly we will welcome Roger back," Purpura said. "We're
not going to shift into a rebuilding mode because of this."
Clemens, who won his record seventh Cy Young Award in his first
season with his hometown team, already has agreed to salary
arbitration. If he exchanges figures with the Astros on Jan. 18, he
could ask for a record amount, topping the $18.5 million request
Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter submitted before the 2001 season.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.