The Yankees are viewed as the strong favorites to land Carlos Beltran. Multiple executives with whom I spoke said that was the expectation.

“I think at this point it would be an upset if he didn’t end up there,” one executive said.

The Yanks want to limit Beltran to a two-year contract, but an AL official said, “Beltran wants three years, so I think the Yankees will either go three years or give him a [bleep]-load more on a two-year deal. I think the feeling in the industry is if it comes down to a two-year deal because no one goes to three, then the Yanks will win.”

One reason is that Beltran has made it clear this could be his final contract, and he wants to make sure to be with a team with a chance to win it all. With all the Yankees’ problems, they are selling free agents on a vision of importing big players this offseason (Brian McCann already, maybe Beltran, perhaps keeping Robinson Cano, etc.) even while living under $189 million restrictions, and only enlarging their aggressiveness next offseason.

The Royals (with 86 victories) actually won one more game than the Yanks, but according to the AL official, “Because of the history, it will be hard for them to sell themselves as championship contenders.”
Nevertheless, the team that traded Beltran on June 24, 2004, “really, really wants him,” the AL official said. “Do they think they could get him? I see them taking every avenue possible, but I would be shocked if they went beyond two years.”

An NL executive said the Royals have prioritized Beltran because they believe they are ready to win and need to make the playoffs in 2014 and “because they want to move around the DH more rather than have it just for Billy Butler.” For example, if Beltran were signed, Kansas City could play Justin Maxwell in right field against lefty pitching and DH Beltran.