There’s no way one move could replace the production the St. Louis Cardinals lost when Albert Pujols ditched them for the Angels. But on Thursday, the World Series champions took a step toward strengthening the middle of their lineup by adding six-time All-Star outfielder Carlos Beltran.
The Cardinals disclosed the agreement on Thursday night but will wait until after the holidays — and Beltran’s impending physical — to make a formal announcement.
According to KMOX, the Cardinals’ flagship radio station, the deal is worth $26 million over two years.
Beltran, 34, hit .300 with 22 home runs, 84 RBIs and a .385 on-base percentage last season, starting the season with the Mets and finishing it with the Giants. After two injury-plagued seasons, Beltran played in 142 games — his highest total since 2008.
Bringing in Beltran will also bolster the Cardinals’ defense, with Lance Berkman moving from the outfield to first base and Beltran slotting into right. Allen Craig — who was a hero in the National League Championship Series — will likely return to a reserve role, but knee surgery may keep him out of the lineup for the first month of the season.
“Beltran is a proven outfielder who obviously has been a tough opponent against the Cardinals for many years,” St. Louis general manager John Mozeliak said in a statement. “It is going to be nice to have his bat and competitive nature working for us instead of on the other side of the field for the next couple of years.”
Earlier this month, the Cardinals re-upped with shortstop Rafael Furcal for two years and $14 million.
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