Free agent-to-be in hot demand
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Let the bidding begin for Carlos Beltran.
"This is a change," Baird told reporters.
Specifically, this means he is ready to take offers for Beltran, his switch-hitting center fielder who is one of just six players with at least three seasons of 100 runs, 100 RBIs and 30 stolen bases.
Beltran, 26, will be eligible for free agency after this year and the Royals are determined to get as much for him as they can.
Baird said he has heard from clubs "on the East Coast and the West Coast" who might be interested in the 26-year-old Beltran, but refused to be specific.
"I think it's very unfair to the ballclubs I'm talking to on any player," he said. "If they want to share it, that's fine."
Teams known to have expressed interest include Anaheim, Boston and the New York Yankees.
There are certain to be others. Beltran last year become the first switch-hitter to bat over .300 while hitting more than 25 home runs and stealing more than 40 bases.
The AL player of the month in April, he went into Friday night's game hitting .270 with 12 home runs and 43 RBIs.
Two weeks ago, Baird told clubs he would not consider dealing any of his players without giving the Royals a chance to get back in the AL Central race. They responded by winning six of 10. But the doubleheader loss to Montreal made them to a league-worst 21-36.
"I will listen at this point," he said.
"Am I disappointed? No question I'm disappointed. I still believe that this ballclub intact at the end of the season would be better than it is right now. But time is not on our side and we are behind the 8-ball, as we've talked about numerous times. And you can't be completely off the pool table, so to speak."
Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press
MORE MLB HEADLINES
- MLB average jumps 5.4 percent to $3.39M
- Rockies get OF Stubbs in trade with Indians
- Court rules MLB can depose A-Rod's cousin
- Source: Red Sox acquire Herrera from Rockies
MOST SENT STORIES ON ESPN.COM
- Majestic Youth St. Louis Cardinals Carlos Beltran #3 Home White Replica Jersey