Beltran, Mets reach deal worth $119M

Published: Monday, January 10, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 10, 2005 at 1:31 a.m.
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 the 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.
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 today. The sides intended to announce the deal Tuesday - the last day before a change in federal rules makes signing bonuses subject to increased taxes.
Across town, the Yankees planned to hold a news conference Tuesday to announce their acquisition of Randy Johnson. The Big Unit also was to have his physical in New York today, the last step needed to finalize the drawn-out trade talks for a deal in which the Yankees will send to Arizona pitchers Javier Vazquez and Brad Halsey, catcher Dioner Navarro and $9 million.
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 highest since Jason Giambi got a $120 million, seven-year contract from the Yankees in December 2001.
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.
Astros owner Drayton McLane turned down Beltran's demand for a no-trade clause, which became an obstacle to a deal, perhaps a fatal one.
''That was one aspect, but there certainly were other parts,'' 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.''
Boras also spoke several times with the Yankees on Saturday night, and proposed a $100 million, six-year contract for Beltran, a high-ranking baseball official said on the condition he not be identified. 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.
''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.

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