NEW YORK -- Carlos Beltran continues to enjoy coming to the ballpark each day, savoring what some believe deserves to be an All-Star campaign in the heart of the Yankees' batting order, and it has the veteran outfielder seriously pondering his chances of completing two decades in the Major Leagues.
Currently in his 18th full season, the 39-year-old Beltran said that his focus is on helping the Yankees win as many games as possible this year, but his success is making it easier to envision a future in which he seeks a two-year contract as a free agent this upcoming winter.
"I made it clear a long time ago that I wanted to play 20 years," Beltran said. "It would be a good accomplishment for me personally, and I want to give myself a chance to win a World Series. I've played the game of baseball for a long time and been to the World Series once with the Cardinals, and we lost. I just feel that's something I'd love to experience before I make my last call."
Beltran hit his 16th homer of the season in Wednesday's 12-6 victory over the Angels, and has gone deep in four of his last six games. He also hit a go-ahead double in a four-run sixth.
By paying close attention to his body and diet, Beltran has been able to complete his pregame preparation without pain, avoiding regular trips to the trainer's office -- he even said that he hasn't had to ice his knees, once problematic, in several years.
"I think he's having an incredible year," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "I think he's having an All-Star year. Without him, I don't know where we would be at. I think he's a Hall of Famer, as I've said before. Just the example that he leaves on the field and off the field is really, truly amazing. He's a treat to be around, and I'm going to play him as much as I can."
Girardi said that having Beltran and Alex Rodriguez swinging the bat well will be key as the Yankees approach a make-or-break month, with ownership giving the roster some additional slack to prove that they can bubble back above the .500 mark and contend in the AL East.
If not, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman could find himself in the unfamiliar position of selling prior to the Aug. 1 non-waiver Trade Deadline. Along with the likes of Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller and Brett Gardner, Beltran would be among the Yanks' most enticing pieces, and he likely would waive his no-trade clause for another crack at a World Series ring.
"I could say that I would love to stay here, come back, this and that, but at the end of the day, I understand there are decisions that people make above us," Beltran said. "You've got to go with what it is. I've been in the game a long time."
That's a long way down the line for Beltran, who said that his focus is just on coming to the stadium and playing. It has been encouraging, however, that he appears to have plenty left in the tank for both this year and the future.
"Right now, everything's great. I'm healthy. Nothing hurts," Beltran said. "But who knows one month, two months from now? The game of baseball can change so quickly. I'm staying positive. I just want to do the best I can to help this team make it to the playoffs. I believe that we have what it takes with the team we have."
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.