The Cardinals have addressed the Albert Pujols-sized void in their lineup by agreeing to terms with free agent outfielder Carlos Beltran. The contract is a two-year, $26MM deal that includes a full no-trade clause and will be finalized once Beltran passes a physical. Beltran is represented by Dan Lozano.
Beltran, who turns 35 in April, hit .300/.385/.525 in 598 plate appearances for the Mets and Giants in 2011. It was a solid return to good fitness for the six-time All-Star, who was plagued by knee injuries over the previous two seasons and made only 612 plate appearances combined in 2009-10. Beltran is slated to play right field in St. Louis until Allen Craig returns from injury, and then Beltran will shift to center field (with Jon Jay still receiving significant playing time). Beltran is also likely the Cardinals' top DH option during interleague games in American League ballparks.
A contract with a $13MM average annual value and no-trade protection is a very nice win for Beltran and Lozano, especially given that Beltran's market was rather thin as recently as two weeks ago. Once Michael Cuddyer and Josh Willingham signed, however, interest in Beltran picked up considerably. Beltran ended up receiving a higher AAV than either Cuddyer ($31.5MM over three years) or Willingham ($21MM over three years) received from the Rockies and Twins, respectively. The Indians and Blue Jays were considered to be the other finalists for Beltran's services, with the Rays and Red Sox also in the mix.
Though Beltran was a Type A free agent, the Giants will not receive a compensatory draft pick since they weren't allowed to offer him arbitration due to a clause in Beltran's previous contract with the Mets. The Cardinals, as well, don't have to give up any draft picks for the signing.