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Why did the Astros lose Beltran?

The Houston Chronicle is full of stories from players and the Hispanic community stating the owner Drayton McLane "did all he could" to get Carlos Beltran to sign with the Astros. David Pinto implies Boras sent McLane on a fools' errand to raise the price fetched from the Mets.

My take is different, and is based on this report in the Chronicle: "Sources: McLane turned down Beltran's demand for no-trade clause." Why might this move have been "fatal," as this article suggests? My view is that Beltran would have stayed in Houston had he been convinced that McLane was committed to winning. McLane's final monetary offer was at a significant discount to the Mets, though the tax differential would have reduced or eliminated the gap in net income to Beltran. Beltran's quid pro quo was the no trade clause, and I don't blame him or Boras for requesting it.

A no trade clause is worth little to a player if the team is winning. It has value to a player if the team is losing and they need to restructure the roster. Beltran's request can thus be viewed as a request from McLane for a commitment to win, and should that commitment not be there, to allow Carlos some choice among teams in a future trade. In effect, Carlos was saying to Drayton, "I want to win, badly. Do you?" Unfortunately for Houston fans, Drayton's answer was negative.

Bottom line: Houston baseball ownership did not step up to the plate, as reported. Again (remember the Nolan Ryan affair).

Tom Kirkendall has a different take, and he may be right. But McLane has just conceded the perch of the Central division to the Cardinals for the next few years. It might be the right thing to do financially, but it is not very sporting. The conclusion of the Bagwell and Biggio era looks bleak to me.

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