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Beltran and Astros Fail To Reach Deadline Deal

Sunday, January 9, 2005; Page E13

Carlos Beltran's stay in Houston almost certainly will be short.

The Astros failed to reach an agreement with the all-star center fielder before an 11 p.m. CST deadline last night, and now Beltran probably will leave the team he helped come within a win of its first World Series appearance.

Right-hander Kevin Millwood, who battled elbow problems last season, and the Indians finalized a one-year, $7 million contract. (Francois Roy -- AP)

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Under the rules of baseball's labor contract, Houston cannot sign Beltran until May 1 -- virtually ensuring he'll go to another team. The Astros had been bidding for Beltran against the Mets and perhaps other teams.

Beltran and agent Scott Boras made the Astros sweat this one out. Astros GM Tim Purpura had said that Houston made its final offer to Beltran on Thursday. He declined to discuss the amount of Houston's proposal. Boras had been seeking more than $100 million.

Beltran was still speaking yesterday with the Mets, who dispatched a delegation to Puerto Rico to meet with Beltran and Boras tomorrow.

LA RUSSA EXTENDED: Tony La Russa agreed to a three-year contract extension with the Cardinals after taking them to their first World Series in 17 seasons.

La Russa also said yesterday that the Cardinals are close to a new contract for GM Walt Jocketty.

La Russa, 60, led the Cardinals to 105 victories and the National League championship last season. St. Louis has been to the playoffs five times in his nine years with the club.

The new contract will keep him in place through 2007, which would tie La Russa with Red Schoendienst for the second-longest tenure as the Cardinals' manager.

"I never look too far ahead, but that gets my attention," La Russa said. "If it works out -- 12 years, I would have never thought that."

• GIANTS' EFFORT: The Giants raised $109,650 for the tsunami relief effort through a two-day silent auction on the team's Web site that included a personal meeting in the dugout with Barry Bonds. The meeting with Bonds went for $30,200 and will give the winner and three guests the opportunity to sit with him in the Giants' dugout before a game this season and have a group picture taken.

MILLWOOD'S DEAL: Kevin Millwood finalized a one-year, $7 million contract with the Indians, who hope the right-hander's elbow is healthy and that he can stabilize a young starting rotation.

Millwood, 30, has three seasons with at least 17 wins and has pitched more than 200 innings four times, but spent last year battling elbow problems.

"I'm not real worried about it," Millwood said of the injury. "If I was at a point right now that I felt I wouldn't be able to pitch all year, I probably wouldn't have signed."

MORE DEALS: DH Ruben Sierra agreed to a one-year, $1.5 million contract to stay with the Yankees. Sierra, 39, hit .244 with 17 homers and 65 RBI last season. . . .

C Rod Barajas and the Rangers agreed to a one-year, $1.85 million contract, avoiding salary arbitration. . . .

South Korean LHP Dae Sung Koo agreed to a one-year contract with the Mets. Koo, 35, was 6-10 with a 4.32 ERA last season for Orix of Japan's Pacific League.

-- From News Services

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