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Carlos Beltran free agency: Royals only contending team to offer 3rd year for OF

Beltran and the Royals look like they are destined for a reunion with most other interested clubs not willing to offer a third season.

Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas City Royals are the only contending team currently willing to offer free agent outfielder Carlos Beltran a third year, reports Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune.

Beltran has an offer on the table for $48 million over three years from a "mystery team". Other teams are convinced that Beltran will end up signing with the Royals for exactly that kind of contract. The Mariners have also gone hard after Beltran and have been rumored to be the mystery team, but are not the type of contending team of which he is seeking to join. Beltran had been in Kansas City on Monday to meet with team officials.

For the Royals to be able to afford the kind of contract that has been offered to Beltran, they would likely need to shed some payroll. The team's opening day payroll in 2013 stood at a franchise-high $81.8 million. The team currently owes around $61 million to players under contract in 2014, with MLB Trade Rumors estimating 10 arbitration-eligible players will receive a combined $25 million. Filling in the rest of the roster with league-minimum players would bring the team's current 2014 opening day payroll close to $90 million.

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The Royals could make an effort to trade designated hitter Billy Butler, who is set to earn $8.5 million in 2014 and has an option for the 2015 season. Such a move could bring in another useful piece for next year's team while also opening up roster flexibility. Beltran could be used in the DH spot more as he continues to age. A three-year deal would cover his age-37, 38 and 39 seasons.

Beltran is coming off a two-year, $26 million deal with the Cardinals that worked out very well for St. Louis. He hit .282/.343/.493 with 56 home runs over those two years and turned in some clutch performances in the postseason that helped earn the Cardinals a National League pennant in 2013, and also brought Beltran to his first World Series ever.

The Royals are the team that originally drafted and developed Beltran. He spent his first six-and-a-half major league seasons in Kansas City before being traded to the Houston Astros in a cost cutting measure. In a strange twist, the Royals now may be the only team Beltran will consider that is willing to pony up the kind of deal for which he is looking.

Other teams that have been in on Beltran along with the Royals and Mariners are the Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers, Mets, and Tigers.

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