KANSAS CITY — St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Carlos Beltran says the Toronto Blue Jays never made him a formal offer during the off-season and that talks fizzled with a handful of American League clubs because they primarily wanted him to DH.
The 35-year-old, in Kansas City for his seventh all-star game after agreeing to a US$26-million, two-year deal with the Cards, has played 71 games in right and three more in centre, thus far avoiding the knee troubles that have plagued him in recent years.
He’s batting .296/.382/.542 with 20 homers and 65 RBIs for the defending World Series champions.
“The Blue Jays were interested, they never made an offer,” Beltran said during Monday’s all-star media day. “They were interested for me to go there but we didn’t talk about term or years or money, or anything like that. There were other teams also; Cleveland was there, Tampa was there. San Francisco. I was willing to consider them but they never called.
“It was a tough decision for me because at the end of the day I was thinking about an American League team, having the opportunity to DH once in a while, but at the same time, I felt healthy so I’m like, ‘Man, I just want to play in the outfield, I don’t feel like I’m a DH right now.’
“So a lot of teams from the American League wanted me to DH for the most part and I wasn’t willing to do that.”
Back in January during the Blue Jays’ annual state of the franchise event for season-ticket holders, general manager Alex Anthopoulos responded to a fan’s question about Beltran by hinting that his refusal to DH and play on turf prevented a deal.
“I know that we were linked to him and so on, but with a lot of players, at times, some of them don’t want to play on turf at no matter what money,” Anthopoulos said at the time. “Some of them don’t want to DH no matter what money, and some of them have health concerns from a medical staff that the club may feel they have to DH, and if they have to DH they’re unwilling to sign no matter what the dollars are, considering they’ve made a lot of money in their career. And some don’t want to change leagues, going from the National League to the American League, even if you offer them more years and more money. At that point, I don’t know what you can do, other than having taken that shot.”
While the DH issue was certainly a factor, Beltran rejected the notion of the artificial turf at the Rogers Centre being an issue.
“When you’re healthy you don’t care, you can play on concrete and it’s fine,” he said. “Turf, natural surface it’s the same, all I was thinking was being able to be with a team that had the opportunity to maybe be in the playoffs.”
At 46-40, the Cardinals are third in the National League Central, 2.5 games behind the Pittsburgh Pirates, and ½ a game behind Atlanta for the second wild card.