Beltran, Mets agree to basics of 7-year deal

Monday, January 10, 2005

NEW YORK -- Carlos Beltran and the New York Mets agreed Sunday to try to structure a $119 million, seven-year contract, a lawyer involved in the negotiations told The Associated Press.

The sides agreed that the deal will include an $11 million signing bonus, the source said on condition of anonymity.

New York and Beltran's agent, Scott Boras, still had to work out how to structure his salaries for each season and any deferred payments, the source and another person involved in the talks said, also on condition of anonymity.

Mets officials and Boras planned to work throughout Sunday in an attempt to reach a preliminary agreement on the specifics of the contract. After the sides sign off on that, Beltran must pass a physical for the deal to be finalized.

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.

The Mets, who haven't made the playoffs since 2000, were on the verge of pulling off their second coup of the offseason. They lured three-time Cy Young Award winner Pedro Martinez from the Boston Red Sox last month with a $53 million, four-year deal.

Houston offered Beltran a $100 million, seven-year contract, but he turned it down before Saturday night's deadline for him to re-sign with the Astros. Because he became a free agent and rejected salary arbitration, under baseball's rules Houston had to re-sign Beltran by midnight Saturday or lose rights until May 1.

"The serious parts of this only happened in the last six hours," Astros general manager Tim Purpura said. "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."

Houston's offer included a $14 million option for 2012 with a $2 million buyout, a team executive confirmed Sunday on condition of anonymity. If the option were exercised, the deal would have been worth $112 million over eight seasons.

Astros officials said an agreement was difficult to get in place Saturday night because of the logistics involved: Team staff was at the ballpark, owner Drayton 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. Clemens, 42, 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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