NEW YORK -- There are no shortage of suitors for Carlos Beltran as the trade deadline approaches. And the New York Mets are demanding top-notch young talent in return for the outfielder because they are willing to cover his remaining salary, according to a major league source.
"From what I gather, they are asking a lot for him because they are willing to pick up all of his salary," the source told ESPNNewYork.com.
Beltran is in the final season of a seven-year, $119 million contract. He is owed $18.5 million this season and has full no-trade protection.
If Beltran is dealt at the July 31 trade deadline, he would still have nearly $6 million remaining on his contract.
Because the Mets have experienced financial issues, it had been unclear whether team officials would seek salary relief instead of trying to maximize the prospects being returned.
Despite trading closer Francisco Rodriguez to the Milwaukee Brewers last week, general manager Sandy Alderson insisted he was not imminently dismantling the team. Alderson indicated he would allow the Mets players to determine whether they are in a playoff race and wait on breaking up the team until closer to the trade deadline.
The Mets then opened the second half losing two of three games to the first-place Philadelphia Phillies, moving the organization closer to selling off veteran parts.
Alderson should be extra motivated to trade Beltran if the Mets continue to fade.
Normally, teams have the option of keeping their free-agents-to-be through the end of the season, then offering arbitration in order to gain draft picks when they sign elsewhere. However, Beltran's contract prohibits the Mets from offering arbitration, a team official said, meaning the Mets cannot gain picks in next year's draft if Beltran remains through the end of the season and then leaves.
Despite knee woes in recent seasons, Beltran has remained in the lineup this year. In fact, until missing a third straight start Monday with the flu, Beltran had appeared in a team-high 90 games.
Manager Terry Collins said he will put Beltran in the lineup on Tuesday.
Beltran spent Monday visiting the doctor. He returned to Citi Field on Monday night and spent the majority of the night in the trainer's room, but was available to pinch hit.
Beltran said after the Mets' 4-1 loss that he was ready to hit. He described dealing with the illness the last three days as "very hard." He said the illness, which his doctor described as a virus, caused soreness in his joints and resulted in "104 to 105" degree fevers. But Beltran said he will be healthy enough to return to the lineup on Tuesay when the Mets open a three-game series against the St. Louis Cardinals.
"I feel better," Beltran said. "Today was a day where I came to the ballpark with a little bit more energy than the past couple days."
Adam Rubin covers the Mets for ESPNNewYork.com. Information from ESPNNewYork.com's Ian Begley was used in this report.