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McLane: We want Beltran to stay10/18/2004 1:13 PM ET
By Barry M. Bloom / MLB.com
HOUSTON -- The Astros are on quite a ride right now with the big prize being their first slot ever in the World Series. But no matter what happens this postseason, the big prize when October turns to November is re-signing Carlos Beltran, the sizzling slugger who is perhaps this winter's top free agent. Beltran hit the game-winning homer in the seventh inning of Sunday's 6-5, Game 4 Astros victory over the Cardinals at Minute Maid Park. And shortly after his team tied the best-of-seven National League Championship Series, owner Drayton McLane told MLB.com that re-signing Beltran would be one of the Astros' top offseason priorities. "I'm a very optimistic person," said McLane, before his Astros began to prepare for Game 5 tonight. "We had to talk to Jeff Bagwell a couple of years ago when he was in the same position Carlos is in right now, and we signed Jeff to a five-year contract when there were other offers he could have taken.
"Same thing with Craig Biggio. We have been able to do those sorts of things. I've talked to Carlos and his agent and we told them that when he's ready to talk, we certainly want to sit down and seriously talk with him. Certainly not while we're trying to win the league championship. This is not the time, but when the season's over, that will be the time and we'll get right on it."McLane knows he had the inside track with Bagwell and Biggio because they are both career Astros and make Houston their home. Beltran is a recent member of the Astros, who acquired him this past June 24 from Kansas City in a three-way trade that included Oakland after the Royals determined that they could not re-sign the 27-year-old center fielder. The free agent market has changed recently, but the five-year, $70 million deal that Vladimir Guerrero signed as a free agent this past winter with the Anaheim Angels is probably a realistic benchmark for what Beltran can garner. But those matters are better left for the future, Beltran said on Sunday. "I'm not going to worry about money and I'm not going to worry about where I'm going to play next year," he said. "Right now, I'm just worried about the next game." Scott Boras is Beltran's agent and usually no sentiment is involved when he shops a client around the Majors. To get a better deal for Bernie Williams from the Yankees, Boras once procured a sizeable offer from the rival Boston Red Sox. Williams wanted to stay in New York, and the Yankees ultimately matched the offer.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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