The Astros already have been turned down after offering $81 million over six years, but the fact that Beltran hasn’t yet embraced the Yankees – he turned down a chance to tour New York City, according to Newsday – is giving hope to outsiders, particularly the Mets. Could they possibly steal Beltran from under the Yankees’ noses? It’s a one-in-a-million chance, but some industry insiders say the Mets could have Beltran’s ear by playing to their increasingly apparent strength – the Spanish-speaking clubhouse. Of course, the Wilpon family will have to make an extraordinary financial commitment to even enter the Beltran sweepstakes, but no team in baseball is as determined to make over the clubhouse demographic as the Mets.
Whether it’s coincidence or by design, general manager Omar Minaya, a native of the Dominican Republic, has ushered out Al Leiter, John Franco, Todd Zeile and Mike Stanton this winter and has pursued Latino players in their place. That’s helped in the recruitment of Carlos Delgado, who is in daily communication with Mets executives, and may be a factor with Beltran, too.
Still, the most compelling reason for the Mets to launch a Hail Mary in Beltran’s direction is his decision to pick a team before Jan. 8 – the last day he can sign with the Astros after having rejected their offer of arbitration. The Mets and Yankees had assumed Boras would string out the courtship process until late January, but with a smaller window, “We won’t get stuck without [a center fielder] if [Beltran] says no to us,” said a Mets insider.
The Mets are rightfully assuming Beltran will ultimately choose the Bronx or else head back to Minute Maid Park. Even the Tigers may end up outspending the Wilpons. But signing Pedro has created enormous front-office momentum at Shea. If nothing else, there’s growing confidence that Delgado will choose the Mets over the Orioles, if and when the Mets decide to pay him in excess of the $12.5 million a year Richie Sexson is getting from the Mariners.
Although the Mets are nowhere near such a decision, one baseball executive said, “If the Mets come up with the money, they’re going to get Delgado. Just watch
It was reported elsewhere that Omar Minaya attended in ceremony yesterday in which Sammy Sosa renewed his marriage vows (presumably to his wife, Sonia, and not the makers of Flintsone vitamins).