No details have emerged about the Royals' offer to Beltran, who was intrigued by the notion of returning to the team for which he starred early in his career, from late in the 1998 season to midseason 2004. But he also was intrigued by the idea of playing for the fabled Yankees.
"The opportunity to compete and to win was the key," Beltran told the Puerto Rican newspaper Primera Hora. "I had better offers on the table, but at this stage of my career, I want to compete and to have the opportunity to go to the World Series."
The Royals strongly believe they are at that stage in their development and wanted the switch-hitting Beltran to play right field to help them get there. However, they hedged their bet on Thursday by acquiring Brewers right fielder Norichika Aoki to be their leadoff batter. A Beltran signing likely would have moved Aoki to center field.
Now, the Royals' search for an impact bat likely will shift to the trade market, with second base, currently the domain of Emilio Bonifacio, as a possible landing place.
Brandon Phillips, the Reds' All-Star second baseman, has been the subject of speculation, but Cincinnati general manager Walt Jocketty this week tried to defuse that talk. He called Phillips to tell him he wasn't actively trying to deal him, and Phillips popped up unannounced to greet fans at the Redsfest on Friday night in Cincinnati.
Like Beltran, Phillips would come at a high price. He's under contract for $11 million in 2014 and another $39 million over the following three years.
The Beltran deal with New York came just after free-agent second baseman Robinson Cano jumped to the Seattle Mariners for a 10-year, $240-million contract, freeing up the Yankees' ability to spend some cash. Cano's departure also might pique the Yankees' interest in Phillips.
Strangely enough, this is the second time that Beltran has followed a 10-year, $240 million contract to a team. The Cardinals signed him in December 2011 after Albert Pujols departed for the same numbers offered by the Angels.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.