10/18/2004 1:13 PM ET
McLane: We want Beltran to stay
Slugger has made a big splash in his first postseason
By Barry M. Bloom / MLB.com
|Carlos Beltran takes a curtain call after his seventh-inning home run in Game 4. (David J. Phillip/AP)
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.
Barry Bonds, then another Boras client, opted to accept arbitration from the Giants rather than play the market because he wanted to remain in San Francisco. Bonds eventually signed a five-year contract. Alex Rodriguez, though, went to the highest bidder when he signed with Texas.
McLane knows it's not going to be easy to sign Beltran, who, in his first postseason already has eight homers, tying a record set two years ago by Bonds when his Giants went all the way to the seventh game of the World Series before losing to the Angels.
Beltran has also set another record by hitting at least one homer in five consecutive postseason games.
"I think he has enjoyed Houston immensely," McLane said of Beltran, who hit .258 with 23 homers and 53 RBIs in 70 games for the Astros. "He has found the community very enjoyable and has felt very much at home here. I think that's an asset. And he likes winning. He has said publicly that he wants to be with a team that's competitive. You look at the Astros, in the 12 years I've owned the team we've only had one season with a losing record."
Beltran reiterated on Sunday that after five-plus seasons playing with the Royals, postseason is exactly where he wants to be.
"In the playoffs," he said. "There's nothing better than this. In the [National League] Championship Series with a chance to get to the World Series. As a player, this is what you look for, being in this situation, being able to contribute, being able to help the team. There's no better feeling than this. This is right here and right now, it's a dream come true for me."
|Carlos Beltran belted his LCS-record fourth homer of the series and eighth postseason homer in Game 4. Beltran has scored eight times and needs just one more run to tie for the most in an LCS. His 20 total bases are four shy of the LCS record. Players with the most homers in an LCS:|
|Carlos Beltran, HOU||2004||4||4|
|Bob Robertson, PIT||1971||4||4|
|Steve Garvey, LA||1978||4||4|
|Rusty Staub, NYM||1973||3||5*|
|Darryl Strawberry, NYY||1996||3||5*|
|Todd Zeile, BAL||1996||3||5|
|Bernie Williams, NYY||2001||3||5|
|Adam Kennedy, ANA||2002||3||5*|
|Jim Thome, CLE||1998||4||6|
|Jeffrey Leonard, SF||1987||4||7|
|*Staub, Strawberry and Kennedy actually appeared in just four of the games in the series. Atlanta's Hank Aaron clubbed three homers in the 1969 NLCS, most by any player who appeared in just three games.|
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.