With Terry Collins already thinking about a future minus Carlos Beltran, the front office is trying to make that happen.

The Mets remain in the information-gathering stage as scouts flock to their next stop, and Cincinnati could be the last city to see Beltran in his current uniform. Even if he makes it to Washington, Beltran won't be in the nation's capital for very long.

Beltran had a full no-trade clause included in the seven-year, $119-million contract with the Mets he signed before the 2005 season, giving him veto power over any deal. But now, as a player with 10 years of service time and five with one team, he has additional rights.

As a 10-and-five player, Beltran, 34, must be given a 24-hour window to approve any trade, and that means the latest he could be asked would be 3:59 p.m. Saturday. The non-waivers trade deadline is 4 p.m. Sunday. After that, a player must clear waivers to be dealt -- a more complicated scenario -- and would have to be moved by Aug. 31 to be eligible to be on a club's postseason roster.

Beltran's only approved suitors are contending teams, and he prefers to stay in the National League, both for familiarity and his anti-DH stance, as he reiterated after Sunday's loss in Miami.

The Giants, Braves and Phillies have been the most aggressive pursuers. In the event that Beltran can be persuaded to switch leagues -- with financial incentives or otherwise -- the Red Sox and Rangers remain in the hunt.

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Sandy Alderson is not averse to trading Beltran within the NL East, but all things being equal, it would be much easier to ship him to San Francisco or the AL. The Mets are finished with the Giants this year. They have nine games left against the Braves and six against the Phillies.

Then again, Collins is more worried about how his own team plays after Beltran's departure than he is about facing him.

"I think the first thing I have to do is see how they react to it," Collins said before Monday night's game against the Reds. "What the mood in the clubhouse will be, what the conversations are about. And then if it's stuff that I don't like, certainly, it needs to be addressed. It'll be addressed immediately.

"We got guys playing for their jobs. The minute they give up and quit, they won't be here next year. I want the guys to play 162 and play hard."

With John Jeansonne