When the White Sox traded for Freddy Garcia in 2004, Ken Williams had the perfect explanation for the midseason move.

"1917,'' the general manage said, referring to the last time the White Sox had won the World Series.

As the general manager of the defending World Series champion Giants, Brian Sabean would not figure to feel the same sense of urgency.

Yet it was the team at the top that struck quickly last week, snatching switch-hitting outfielder Carlos Beltran out of the hands of his two primary National League rivals, the Phillies and Braves.

With 2010 hero Buster Posey gone for the season, the Giants focused on the Mets' Jose Reyes and Beltran as potential impact replacements.

Once it became clear Reyes was staying in New York — at least until he files for free agency after the season — they shifted to Beltran.

Manager Bruce Bochy wooed him by picking him to the National League All-Star team over the Pirates' Andrew McCutchen and the Marlins' Mike Stanton.

The Giants then offered Beltran and Reyes a ride to the game in Phoenix on the team's charter flight, allowing Bochy to tell Beltran that he would be in the starting lineup as the designated hitter.

None of this would have meant anything, of course, if they had not paid a high price to get him.

But once the Braves' Brian McCann was injured Tuesday, Sabean knew the price of poker was about to go up.

He previously had refused to include his top pitching prospect, 21-year-old Zack Wheeler, in a deal but called Mets GM Sandy Alderson to say Wheeler was in play.

The deal came together quickly from there.

"We owed it to the city," Sabean said in announcing the deal.

"We owed it to the players on the field. When you're defending world champions, you do have to try to defend that title any way you can. As a result, we made this move. … Carlos was the player we coveted all along.''

Beltran, like a textbook Scott Boras client, used his no-trade rights to handpick where he would play before going onto the free-agent market after the season (unless the Giants extend his contract, which is possible).

He wasn't interested in changing leagues, which knocked the Indians out of the picture.

The Pirates say they tried to get involved, but he had no interest in being Cinderella's big sister.

Bochy was so happy to get Beltran that he parted with his uniform number, switching from 15 to 16 so the new player wouldn't have to change.

Now comes the hard part: Backing up the advance billing.

Beltran, healthy for the first time in three years, was hitting .289 with 15 home runs and 66 RBIs for the Mets.