Kansas City, Mo. Center fielder Carlos Beltran and the Kansas City Royals agreed Tuesday to a $9 million, one-year contract.
Beltran, who had filed for arbitration last week, is eligible for free agency after this season and the Royals have said it is unlikely they will be able to sign their standout to a longterm deal before then.
Despite opening the 2003 season on the disabled list, Beltran led the team with a .307 batting average, 102 runs, 26 homers, 100 RBIs, 72 walks and 41 steals. It was Beltran's fourth season with at least 100 runs and 100 RBIs.
Beltran will anchor a lineup that also features two-time All-Star Mike Sweeney and two-time MVP Juan Gonzalez, who agreed to a $4.5 million, one-year deal with the Royals earlier this month.
"We think he can be one of the best players of his generation. He's really looking forward to the season. He's been working very, very hard," Kansas City general manager Allard Baird said.
He said the team wanted to "get this taken care of" so Beltran could concentrate fully on baseball.
Last month, Baird said the Los Angeles Dodgers wanted to trade for Beltran, but were unable to offer anyone the Royals wanted in return for their leading offensive player.
Baird has consistently said he expects Beltran to "be the starting center fielder for the Kansas City Royals on opening day."