CINCINNATI — Carlos Beltran accepted a trade to the San Francisco Giants, leaving the New York Mets to join his new team after saying goodbye Wednesday.
The commissioner’s office had granted the Mets a 24-hour window to talk to the All-Star outfielder about waiving his no-trade clause. Shortly before an 8-2 win over the Reds on Wednesday night, Beltran arrived in the clubhouse and told his teammates he was on his way to join the World Series champions in Philadelphia.
The deal was expected to be announced Thursday morning.
“He came over and shook everybody’s hands and said thank you,” Mets outfielder Angel Pagan said. “We were very happy for him. He’s going to be with a team that’s a contender.”
The Giants will finish a series in Philadelphia on Thursday night, then fly to Cincinnati for a three-game series this weekend, leaving Beltran with a back-and-forth trip.
Beltran, who can become a free agent in the fall, was well aware all season that he would likely wind up on the trading block this summer. But if he was going to leave the Mets, he wanted to play for a postseason contender.
He got his wish — the Giants lead the NL West.
“While we have been engaged in discussions, we’re not in position to comment at this time,” the Mets said in a statement.
New York’s big prize in the trade is pitching prospect Zachary Wheeler, according to a source familiar with the negotiations who spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal hadn’t been announced.
Wheeler is 7-5 with a 3.99 ERA in 16 starts for San Francisco’s high Class-A affiliate in San Jose. The Giants selected him with the No. 6 pick in the 2009 draft.
Mets manager Terry Collins was told not to play Beltran at Cincinnati on Wednesday night. The switch-hitting right fielder wasn’t at Great American Ball Park before batting practice.
Collins said Beltran later showed up and said goodbye.
It will be the second major trade for the Mets, who dealt closer Francisco Rodriguez to Milwaukee after the All-Star game.
“Everyone here has anticipated it, whether we like it or not,” Collins said. “We knew it was going to happen. We’ve talked about it for the last 10 days.”
The Mets have discussed Beltran with several teams, and the Giants certainly could use his bat as they make a run at a repeat. Beltran leads the National League with 30 doubles and is batting . 289 with 15 homers and 66 RBIs.
San Francisco’s offense has been inconsistent and lacking power. The Giants entered Wednesday night’s game in Philadelphia batting .241 as a team with only 66 home runs.
General manager Brian Sabean recently talked about upgrading the Giants’ roster, and it appears he’s added a talented slugger in the middle of a comeback year.
“He’s a complete player,” San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy said, declining to talk about the trade specifically. “Carlos has all the tools that you look for in a player. He has great instincts for the game. Plays the game hard, plays the game right. I still remember when Houston got him and the job he did there.
“He’s a tremendous all-around player. He’s one of the elite players of the game.”
The 34-year-old Beltran is in the final year of a $119 million deal he signed with the Mets before the 2005 season. He was plagued by knee injuries the past two seasons, but has been healthy this year.
The Mets won four of their first 15 games and haven’t been higher than third in the NL East after that poor start, prompting them to look into trades.
Star shortstop Jose Reyes, who also can become a free agent after this season, said Beltran took teammates to a local steakhouse owned by one of his friends following an 8-6 win over the Reds on Tuesday night.
“We were joking with him: ‘You’re doing this because you’re going to get traded,”’ Reyes said. “He said, ‘No. no.”’
Reyes said losing Beltran will be a huge blow to the Mets, who are 53-51 after beating the Reds for the third straight game.
“You lose a guy like that in July, it’s big, it’s huge,” Reyes said. “We’ve got to continue to play with what we’ve got. It’s not easy to replace that kind of player. It’s going to be tough.”
Beltran drove in at least 112 runs for three straight seasons from 2006-08, but few Mets fans will forget his at-bat during the ninth inning of Game 7 of the 2006 NL championship series against St. Louis. Beltran came up with the bases loaded and the Mets trailing 3-1, and struck out looking to end the game.
Collins said Lucas Duda would play in right field a lot after Beltran is gone.
“I’m probably more comfortable at first base and left field because I haven’t played a lot out there,” Duda said. “I’ll try my best out there and see what happens.”
“He’d better get comfortable real fast,” Collins said.
Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey has known Beltran since 2000 and will miss having him in the clubhouse.
“He’s a very complete individual, not only on the field but off,” Dickey said. “He’s a valuable piece that’s leaving. It’s kind of sad.”
Cleveland reportedly was interested in Beltran, but the outfielder didn’t want to go to the rebuilding Indians, who have surprised by staying in contention in the AL East.
“While I won’t comment on specific players, we are continuing to work to try to improve the team and haven’t limited ourselves in the alternatives we’ve considered,’ Indians general manager Chris Antonetti told The Associated Press in an email.