NEW YORK – Carlos Delgado is headed to the Mets, 10 months after he spurned New York to sign with the Florida Marlins.

The Mets reached a preliminary agreement Wednesday to acquire Delgado and $7 million from the Marlins for first baseman Mike Jacobs and minor league pitcher Yusmeiro Petit, a baseball official familiar with the talks said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

because the deal was not final.

“We’re very happy because we will have Delgado in our organization. It’s a matter of hours before he becomes a Mets player,” Tony Bernazard, special assistant to Mets general manager Omar Minaya, said on Puerto Rican radio station WIAC. “I can’t give any details, but I’m sure everything will have a happy ending for us.”

It was the second big, tentative deal struck this week by the payroll-slashing Marlins, who also have a pending agreement to send 2003 World Series MVP Josh Beckett to the Boston Red Sox for three prospects. The two trades would cut Florida’s payroll, which was $60 million at the start of last season, by about $27 million next year.

Frustrated they have been unable to put together financing for a new ballpark, the Marlins said Tuesday they have received permission from the commissioner’s office to explore moving the franchise for the 2008 season.

New York would receive $7 million from the Marlins as part of the trade to offset the $48 million Delgado is owed over the next three seasons. The first baseman turned down the Mets’ offer last January to accept a $52 million, four-year contract from the Marlins, who did not offer the no-trade clause contained in the Mets’ deal.

Delgado’s agent, David Sloane, said Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria called his client to inform him about the trade.

Because he is a veteran player traded during a multiyear contract, Delgado would have the right to file a trade demand during the 15 days following next year’s World Series.

A two-time All-Star, he hit .301 with 33 homers and 115 RBIs in his lone seasons with the Marlins, reaching 30 homers for the ninth consecutive year. The 33-year-old Delgado, who spent his first 12 major league seasons with Toronto, has a .284 career average with 369 homers and 1,173 RBIs.

He also attracted attention for protesting the U.S.-Iraq war by refusing to stand when “God Bless America” was played at major league ballparks.

Last March, he told the Toronto Star that he didn’t like the way Minaya and Bernazard focused on his Hispanic heritage when trying to recruit him.

“At the beginning, that was their approach,” Delgado was quoted as saying. “It doesn’t matter if you’re Latin, American or Italian, if we’re going to talk business, talk business. I’m not doing you any favors, you’re not doing me any favors because we’re speaking in Spanish. I’m a man first.”

Delgado received just $4 million last season and is owed $13.5 million in 2006, $14.5 million in 2007 and $16 million in 2008. His contract contains a club option for 2009 at $12 million with a $4 million buyout, but it could become guaranteed at $16 million depending on how he finishes in MVP voting and whether he wins postseason MVP awards.

The sides have not yet agreed on how to spread the money in the trade, the official said, with the Mets proposing Florida pays $1 million next year, $2 million in 2007 and $4 million in 2008. The Marlins proposed paying $2.5 million in 2007 and $4.5 million in 2008.

The commissioner’s office, which must approve the trade because more than $1 million is changing hands, will make the final decision, the official said. Players also must take physicals.

In addition to Delgado’s salary, the Mets must fulfill a provision in his contract that provides for state tax equalization. The official estimated that would come to between $300,000 and $450,000 next year.

The 25-year-old Jacobs batted .310 with 11 homers and 23 RBIs in 100 at-bats with the Mets, who brought him up from the minors in mid-August. Petit, a right-hander who turned 21 Tuesday, went 9-3 with a 2.91 ERA in 21 starts at Double-A Binghamton, then went 0-3 with a 9.20 ERA in three starts at Triple-A Norfolk. During spring training, Delgado hit a three-run double off Petit.

While striking the Delgado deal, New York also was wooing closer Billy Wagner, who completed a two-day visit Tuesday. The Mets offered the free agent a three-year contract worth just more than $30 million, a deal containing an option for 2009 that could increase the package to $40 million.

“The visit went very well and went a long way to answering whether the Wagners could be comfortable living in the New York area,” agent Bean Stringfellow wrote Wednesday in an e-mail to The Associated Press.

Philadelphia is trying to re-sign the four-time All-Star.

AP-ES-11-23-05 1836EST


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