We don’t know whether it was a concession to the will of the player or some evil scheme he’d cooked up, but the fact is that when Beltran was making his free agency rounds after the 2004 season, agent Scott Boras offered his client’s services to the Yankees for fewer years and less money than what the Mets had offered.
A more bitter pill for Mets fans to swallow is hard to find.
Right there it was set in stone that the relationship between the Mets and Beltran—short of a Hall of Fame run in a Mets uniform and at least one championship—was going to be one of pure business with little genuine affinity.
Beltran was a great and loyal player for the Mets. He provided everything they could’ve expected on and off the field. Remembered predominately for looking at a called strike three in game 7 of the 2006 NLCS and his contentious disagreements with the club concerning his injured knee and subsequent club-unsanctioned surgery, Beltran’s achievements as a Met are glossed over.
He produced and behaved professionally. While never a vocal leader, his teammates often spoke well of his understated influence; he spoke to the media, was respected by all; he played hard.
But he was never embraced by Mets fans because of the perception that he not only didn’t really want to be a Met, but had the audacity to choose the Yankees and offer a discount. It was the Yankees who rejected Beltran with the Mets being his consolation choice; had that not happened, he’d have been a Yankee.
It shouldn’t make a difference, but it does. There’s nothing overtly wrong with chasing every single penny on the open market, but that decision—for whatever reason—hovered over him during his entire Mets tenure and it’s going to linger as a negative just like the strikeout.
Fans worshipped Pedro Martinez when he signed with the Mets in the same winter of 2004-2005 that they acquired Beltran. Is it really hard to see why they’d love Pedro and not Beltran? Even when Beltran was much better as a Met is understandable in the statistical sense?
No. Because stats don’t have anything to do with emotions and the emotional connection to Mets fans was never present with Beltran. He was too shy; too smooth; too quiet…and he offered himself to the Yankees.
Beltran signed with the Mets because they offered the most money; he was traded because the Mets are moving forward without him under a new regime; and both sides got a majority of what they wanted from the relationship, beginning to end.
10-20 years from now, don’t think that Beltran will be a worshipped Met of yesteryear, because he won’t be.
That sense is innate and unfair, but it’s real because in the end, he really didn’t want to be a Met. It was a marriage of convenience when it started and that’s how it’s ending.
To conclude the story of Beltran and the Mets properly and without romantic notions of fantasy as to what would be pleasing to the eye, it couldn’t go any other way.
And it didn’t.