Let me paint you a scene. The year was 1999. The Royals franchise was in limbo, still without an owner since the 1995 death of Muriel Kauffman, widow of owner and founder Ewing Kauffman. The Royals were coming off their fourth consecutive losing season, the longest such stretch in franchise history. The club had tried acquiring veteran sluggers like Jay Bell, Chili Davis, Dean Palmer, and Jeff King to try to win, but to no avail.
Enter a plucky young centerfielder from Puerto Rico. His name? Carlos Beltran.
Carlos electrified Royals crowds with his power, speed, and defense. He won Rookie of the Year in 1999, hitting .293/.337/.454 with 22 HR and 108 RBI. He suffered a sophomore slump due to a knee injury that led to a minor dust-up between him and the organization over where he should re-hab. But in 2001, he bounced right back with another 24 HR 101 RBI season with a line of .306/.362/.514. Carlos was an offensive force in five and a half seasons in Kansas City. He hit .287/.352/.483 in 3512 plate appearances in Kansas City and had 24.7 Wins Above Replacement, sixth most in franchise history. Aside from his sophomore slump season, he never failed to hit at least 20 home runs, drive in 100 runs, or fail to steal 25 bases. He also provided Gold Glove-quality defense and in 2003, when the team made its unexpected run, he finished ninth in MVP balloting.
What if I asked you if you'd like to re-live those days? Sure, Carlos has put on a few pounds and isn't a swift centerfielder gliding to the wall like a ball hawk chasing its prey. But the thirty-six year old Beltran hit .296/.339/.491 with 24 HR 84 RBI and 2.4 WAR for the pennant-winning Cardinals last year. He has been remarkably consistent over his career, and for the most part he has stayed healthy.
Well, the Royals would love to see a reunion with Beltran, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. But they fear they may be outbid for his services. You see, because they are stuck with their $85 million payroll. Despite the fact David Glass said he'd take a loss if the team was close to competing. And despite the fact the Royals will enjoy a $20 million or so windfall with the new TV contract. And despite the fact that attendance would surely go up with an 86 win season and a big move like bringing back Beltran.