Newsday’s Jon Heyman and Bob Herzog report that the Mets chances of luring Carlos Beltran to Flushing improved significantly yesterday, following a 4 hour meeting with the free agent outfielder and the presentation of a financial package that could give other teams pause.

A high-powered contingent led by owner Fred Wilpon and general manager Omar Minaya hand-delivered an eye-opening offer to Beltran in Puerto Rico and perhaps established themselves as clubhouse leaders in the high-stakes game. Sources familiar with the negotiations indicated the Mets made an offer that exceeded Beltran’s asking price of $17 million a year and $119 million in total.

While the Mets threaten to steal the entire offseason after locking up Pedro Martinez a month earlier, the game isn’t over yet. The Astros, Cubs, Tigers and Yankees have shown considerable interest in the five-tool player. While several teams bid in the $90-million range previously, the Mets have set themselves apart – at least for the moment.

Newsday reported last week that agent Scott Boras set $119 million — $17 million a year for seven years — as the opening bid for the serious players.

Boras met with a Mets contingent in New York early yesterday to gauge the Mets’ interest, and after hearing of their intentions, accompanied them to Puerto Rico for a face-to-to-face meeting with Beltran. The Mets’ group also included Jim Duquette and Tony Bernazard. Accompanying Boras was his associate, Mike Fiore.

That Wilpon would OK an expenditure like this with no guarantee he won’t start the season still obliged to pay Mike Piazza and Cliff Floyd’s full salaries is both surprising, and perhaps an indication that whatever happens going forward, the Minaya-era Mets won’t be so quick to pass on available superstar talent the way they did when A-Rod and Vlad Guerrero were free agents.