In return for the six-time All-Star outfielder, the Mets would get one of two minor leaguers, pitcher Zack Wheeler or outfielder Gary Brown, Newsday said yesterday, citing two unidentified people familiar with the situation.
Scott Boras, Beltran’s agent, didn’t return a telephone message left at his office seeking comment. Giants spokesman Jim Moorehead said yesterday the team had nothing to announce at that time. The Mets said in a statement that “while we have been engaged in discussions, we are not in a position to comment at this time.”
Beltran was not in the starting lineup last night for the Mets’ game in Cincinnati and manager Terry Collins was told not to play the outfielder.
“Everyone here has anticipated it, whether we like it or not,” Collins told reporters before the Mets’ 8-2 win against the Reds. “We knew it was going to happen. We’ve talked about it for the last 10 days. So we’ll find out tomorrow.”
News of Beltran’s move came four days before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
The trade would clear salary space for the Mets, who may lose $70 million this year, and would end a New York tenure for Beltran remembered in part for a postseason- ending strikeout.
Beltran, 34, is hitting .289 with a team-high 15 home runs and 66 runs batted in this season. He is making $18.5 million in the final season of a seven-year, $119 million contract signed in 2005. Beltran is owed roughly $6 million for the final two months of the season, according to ESPN.
Beltran, who leads the National League this season with 30 doubles, missed at least half a season each in 2009 and 2010, primarily due to right knee injuries. In the deciding game of the 2006 National League Championship Series against the St. Louis Cardinals, he struck out looking with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth inning, ending the Mets’ most recent playoff appearance without taking the bat off his shoulder.
The Mets are 53-51, 12 1/2 games behind the first- place Philadelphia Phillies in the National League East, and 7 1/2 games behind the division-rival Atlanta Braves in the race for the wild-card spot. The Giants lead the NL West by three games over the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The Giants are next to last in the 16-team National League with 373 runs scored.
“I think it’s fair to say we’re looking for some help with this offense -- somebody that can hit in the heart of the order,” manager Bruce Bochy said before San Francisco’s 2-1 win at Philadelphia yesterday.
The Mets started this season with a $119 million player payroll, seventh in the major leagues, according to USA Today. The team received a $25 million emergency loan from baseball in November and owner Fred Wilpon told Sports Illustrated in May that the team might lose $70 million this season. Wilpon is negotiating to sell 33 percent of the team for $200 million to David Einhorn, head of Greenlight Capital Inc.
Wilpon and co-owner Saul Katz are battling a $1 billion lawsuit by trustee Irving Picard, who is liquidating Bernard Madoff’s firm. Picard sued in December, claiming Wilpon and Katz, through Sterling Equities Inc., had made $300 million in “fictitious” profits and took $700 million out of Madoff’s firm while ignoring signs of fraud. Wilpon and Katz have repeatedly denied Picard’s claims.
The Mets could use payroll flexibility if they want to re-sign Jose Reyes, who becomes a free agent at the end of this season. The 28-year-old shortstop, who is in the option year of his four-year, $23.25 million contract, leads the National League with a .347 batting average and is tops in the major leagues with 16 triples.
Beltran was selected in the second round of the 1995 major league draft by the Kansas City Royals and was the American League Rookie of the Year in 1999. He was traded to the Houston Astros in 2004, where he helped the team to a 92-70 record and its first National League Championship Series in 18 seasons.
Beltran’s Playoff Performance
In those playoffs, Beltran batted .435 with eight home runs and 14 runs batted. The Astros lost in the NLCS to the Cardinals in seven games and Beltran signed with the Mets in the offseason.
In 2006, Beltran led the Mets with 41 home runs, 127 runs and 116 runs batted in, helping the team to a division title and a league-high 97 wins. The Mets swept the Los Angeles Dodgers in the divisional series and advanced to the NL Championship Series for the first time in six seasons, where they met the Cardinals.
With the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 7, Beltran struck out looking at a curveball from Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainright. The Cardinals went on to win the World Series and the Mets haven’t made the playoffs since.
Wheeler, 21, was the sixth pick in the 2009 amateur draft. The 6-foot-3 right-hander is in his second season of minor league baseball. He is 7-5 this season with a 3.99 earned run average for the Class A San Jose Giants.
Brown, 22, is hitting .317 for the San Jose Giants this year with 39 stolen bases in 53 attempts. He has eight home runs and 58 runs batted in, with 127 hits in 95 games.
-- With assistance from Erik Matuszewski in New York. Editors: Rob Gloster, Larry Siddons.
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