HOUSTON (CBS HOUSTON) – Monday afternoon at Minute Maid Park the Houston Astros and General Manager Jeff Luhnow made official a headline official that many Astros fans wanted to see back in the winter of 2004.
FREE AGENT OUTFIELDER CARLOS BELTRAN SIGNS WITH ASTROS.
The 39-year old Beltran, who had one of the greatest performances in Major League postseason history as a member of the Astros in 2004, finally inked his name to a contract with the club that included the one clause that kept him from returning for 2005 and beyond in Houston.
The Astros introduced Beltran to the Houston media Monday afternoon and presented him with his number 15 jersey and Astros hat. Beltran was very candid in the press conference about his desire to return to Houston and why he ultimately left.
“The no-trade clause was the one that really pushed me away,” Beltran said Monday citing his desire to return to Houston after his magical 2004 postseason. “The fact that previous ownership wasn’t able to give me that, basically I was forced to move on.
Beltran hit a MLB postseason record tying eight home runs in his lone post season as an Astro, helping the club finish one game away from their first World Series, which they eventually reached without him the following season.
That offseason Beltran, who was at the time represented by Scott Boras, could not reach agreement with the Astros despite the first ever $100 million multi-year offer from the club. The no-trade clause was the one sticking point and he eventually signed a seven-year $119 million contract with the New York Mets.
Beltran’s plan and message to Boras prior to those negotiations, “I want to come back, (Houston) is the place I want to be.”
The Astros at the time were owned by Drayton McClane and run by Gerry Hunsicker disciple Tim Purpura, were in unchartered waters when it came to Beltran. The team had never made as significant investment in a free agent player at that time in terms of contract length and total dollars and while the made an offer that was agreeable in terms of length and dollars, the team wanted the added protection of being able to unload Beltran at their discretion. Beltran would not budge and his time in Houston was exciting and memorable, but ultimately brief and heartbreaking.
“They have to blame previous ownership for not making it work,” Beltran said as a message to the Houston fans that didn’t understand his . “In my heart I wanted to be here…This is the place that I wanted to be. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out.”
Beltran has been booed by Astros fans before every plate appearance at Minute Maid Park as a member of the Mets, Cardinals, Giants, Yankees and Rangers for the last 12 seasons.
“My experience here was unbelievable that’s why when I come here I get booed the way I get booed,” Beltran said addressing the consistent booing he’s received since 2005. “At the beginning I didn’t really understand it much. Now that the years (have) passed I take it as a compliment.”
Beltran’s reported one-year $16 million contract with the Astros for 2017 does include the full no-trade clause he was seeking 12 years ago. He was pleased with the Astros aggressiveness in attempting to acquire him, which included during the 2016 season as a potential trade acquisition.
“We tried to acquire during the season, it didn’t work out,” Luhnow said. “We continued our pursuit of (Beltran) this offseason and finally we were able to reach agreement a few days ago and sign the contract today.”
Beltran is the latest acquisition in a busy offseason which has included the signing of free agent outfielder Josh Reddick and the trading for catcher Brian McCann. Beltran is excited about joining those new pieces, and joining the star-studded line-up that includes MVP candidate Jose Altuve and fellow Puerto Rican Carlos Correa.
“I’m excited. I’m looking forward to see (Correa) day in and day out and at the same time be a resource for him in the clubhouse.”
Beltran that Correa has told him that he’s excited to play with him and plans on taking advantage of his knowledge. Beltran re-iterated that he looks forward to passing it along.
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