The Astros made a significant offer to Beltran Wednesday. Rumors from the Chronicle have our offer at 6 years for $96 million. McLane, Purpura and Tal Smith all met with the big boy in the Astros spring training facility at Kissimmee, Fla., where we showed him a video clip of his highlights and the fans going crazy, etc. McLane also reaffirmed our commitment to winning and our integrity toward keeping our veteran players.
This is all fine and dandy. But I worry that these things are not exactly what matters to Beltran. He has voiced his opinion many times that he wants to compete. Meaning that if he signs with the Astros, he doesn't want to be the only one there. Meaning that the Astros need to make mutli-year deals to Berkman and Oswalt. Of course, the Astros probably haven't spoken to those guys once this offseason because they're so worried about getting Beltran. And round and round we go.
As far as the offer goes, I think it might be a bit too much already, and I am worried that we might go even higher. I hope we don't. $16 million a year is a damn lot, and it really inhibits our felxibility for the next six years. Hell, that's a fifth of our payroll! Factor in Bagwell's and Pettitte's backloaded salaries for 2005 and 2006, and we might be stuck. Think about it. We'll have no room for nice deals for Berkman and Oswalt if three players are taking up half our payroll already.
So here's the deal. I think signing Beltran for 6 years, $96 million would be a good deal. Beltran is probably worth the money. He can do everything. The little things -- defense and baserunning in particular -- augment his ability at the plate. Equally important is the fact that he's injury-free. Plus he's coming up on the best years of his career. Plus I think the market in all likelihood will soon open up again. And big free agents will resume signing A-Rod and Manny-like deals.
Besides, after letting Kent and Miller walk (even though I do not dislike either decision), the Astros have got to do something to raise the energy back to where it was last year. Beltran will provide us with all the crowd support we need. And if we get Clemens out of it, all the better.
Maybe the Astros can sign Oswalt and Berkman to back-loaded contracts. Let them have only 3 or 4 million until Bagwell and Pettitte are done. Then give them the big bucks. We cannot give up on them for the sake of Beltran.
Sixteen days until Jan. 8.