|ESPN.com: Baseball||[Print without images]|
Once the New York Mets strike a satisfactory deal for Carlos Beltran, they'll have to run it past the veteran outfielder for his approval in conjunction with his full no-trade clause.
Amid speculation that Beltran might be hesitant to leave the National League for an American League club, the outfielder's agent said one factor trumps all. And it's not league affiliation.
"This decision for Carlos is about the select group of teams where he feels he has a great chance to win," agent Scott Boras told ESPN.com Tuesday. "That's what this thing is about.
"We've given Carlos a complete dossier on this. He's a veteran player. He really understands which teams have the metrics for winning and why. If a team came to him and they were not on his short list, I don't think he would go there. I think he has a very clear vision of what he wants to do."
Boras didn't reveal the "short list" for Beltran, who remains the primary focus of a baseball trade season that has been slow to develop. With the non-waiver deadline only five days away, reliever Francisco Rodriguez and infielders Jeff Keppinger and Wilson Betemit are the biggest players to have changed addresses in deals.
Beltran told ESPNNewYork.com's Adam Rubin that he had not been approached with any concrete trades.
"No. No proposals," he said. "I called (Boras) a couple of weeks ago, and that's it. Other than that, we haven't talked.
"When they approach me and they say, 'Carlos we have a deal, this is what's going to happen,' then I will listen to the deal. And if it makes sense for both, then, like I said, we will move forward. Right now there's a lot of rumors out there. I haven't heard from (general manager Sandy Alderson). I haven't heard from Scott. So I'm here playing baseball."
Beltran, 34, entered Tuesday hitting .289 with a .903 OPS in 97 games this season. The Texas Rangers, Atlanta Braves, San Francisco Giants, Philadelphia Phillies and Boston Red Sox have all expressed interest and had scouts monitoring Beltran at the park almost daily. At last check, sources said the Rangers have ramped up their pursuit, the Braves and Giants remain interested, and the Phillies and Red Sox have slipped to the back of the pack. But the pecking order tends to change by the day.
When Beltran signed his seven-year, $119 million contract with the Mets in January 2005, it included a complete no-trade clause that requires him to give permission before the Mets deal him to any of the other 29 clubs. Boras said he tries to make full no-trade clauses customary when he's negotiating deals for "franchise" players.
"The first reason is so their family can stay in one spot," Boras said. "The other reason is, if the player doesn't win in a city for a long time, it gives him an opportunity to pick and choose what team gives him the best chance to win. I call it the 'ring clause.'"
Beltran's contract includes another interesting provision courtesy of Boras: His next team (assuming he's traded) will not have the option to offer him salary arbitration as a free agent this winter. As a result, when Beltran goes on the open market in the offseason, any team interested in signing him will not have to worry about surrendering draft picks as compensation.
Many observers have pointed out that Beltran's age and $18.5 million salary make it unlikely that a team would offer him salary arbitration regardless of the provision. But it's just another wrinkle to help ensure his appeal to potential suitors.
It remains to be seen where Beltran will finish the 2011 season, and what kind of impact he'll have during the pennant stretch. But Boras sounds as if he's already practicing his sales pitch for the winter.
"This is one of the most impactful players we've seen in a decade at the trade deadline," Boras said. "You've got a switch-hitting, center field, right field guy who can do it all. He's a leader in the prime of his career, having an All-Star season. You don't normally get these kind of players on the market. And when you get him (this winter), you don't have to give up draft picks."Jerry Crasnick is a senior writer for ESPN.com.