Mets GM flew to Puerto Rico Monday

Originally Published: January 3, 2005
ESPN.com news services

NEW YORK -- The New York Mets, invigorated by the signing of Pedro Martinez, are making another aggressive push at a highly-prized free agent, All-Star center fielder Carlos Beltran.

Carlos Beltran
Center Field
Houston Astros
Profile
2004 SEASON STATISTICS
GM HR RBI R SB AVG
159 38 104 121 42 .267

General manager Omar Minaya and three other team officials traveled to Puerto Rico on Monday to meet with the slugger.

General manager Omar Minaya and owner Fred Wilpon were among those who flew to San Juan to visit with Beltran, agent Scott Boras, and Boras' associate, Mike Fiore. Senior vice president of baseball operations Jim Duquette and special assistant Tony Bernazard also made the trip.

A similar trip helped Minaya and the Mets lure star pitcher Pedro Martinez this offseason. Minaya traveled to the Dominican Republic at Thanksgiving and dined with Martinez, who agreed to a $53 million, four-year contract with New York last month.

One selling point the Mets will stress, according to a Newsday report, is the tremendous marketing potential Beltran will enjoy as the city's newest Hispanic star. The Mets also plan on making Beltran and Martinez the featured faces of the organization, hoping to attract more free agents to Shea Stadium.

Ultimately, it may come down to money. The Houston Astros reportedly have an offer of six years, $96 million on the table, and Boras reportedly has made it known the starting point for further talks is at least seven years and $112 million.

Beltran met with New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner last week and left impressed.

"The meeting with Steinbrenner was very good," Beltran said in a story published in Friday's edition of Primera Hora newspaper. "He is a professional person, super-educated. I've let them know my interest, and they have interest, too, about me joining their team."

While it has been assumed the Yankees would simply top the highest bid, that might not be the case.

According to the New York Post, a $15 million salary would wind up costing the Yankees $21 million when the 2005 luxury tax is factored in, and even Steinbrenner might begin to feel the financial crunch at some point.

Beltran led the Houston Astros within one win of their first World Series last season, batting .417 in the NL championship series with four home runs, five RBIs and four stolen bases. He also hit .455 with four homers and nine RBIs in the first round.

The Astros would like to retain Beltran, but if they don't reach an agreement by Saturday they can't re-sign him until May 1.

"As a baseball player, I want to be treated fairly -- based on what I've done in my career," Beltran told the Post. "Of course, the opportunity to win is bigger than the economic thing. I want to be part of a winning team. I will consider every team."

Beltran has said he thinks he would be prepared to play in a pressure-packed environment such as New York.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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