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Getting over Albert: Cards sign Carlos Beltran for $26 million

David Brown
Big League Stew

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They say a good way to help yourself get over a breakup is to date someone new. And the slugger St. Louis Cardinals fans will be seeing for the next two seasons is pretty hot.

Rather than sulk over the loss of Albert Pujols, the Cardinals went out and bought outfielder Carlos Beltran, one of the best hitters on the free-agent market. Derek Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch broke the news of Beltran and the Cards agreeing on a $26 million deal for two years with a full no-trade clause Thursday. Yahoo! Sports' own Tim Brown adds that Beltran, who is 34 years, chose the Cardinals over similar offers from the Toronto Blue Jays and Cleveland Indians.

Beltran's reputation glistens: he hit .300/.385/.525 in 598 plate appearances with the New York Mets and San Francisco Giants in 2011, and has a career adjusted OPS of 121. GM John Mozeliak paying $13 million a season for that kind of production would be a bargain — especially in light of the $254 million over 10 years the Los Angeles Angels gave Pujols.

The downside for the Cards would be Beltran's chronically bad knees. In 2009 and 2010, he played in only 145 games combined. He managed to play 142 games in '11, but missed some time because of a bad wrist. The only downside for Beltran would be putting up with Adam Wainwright questions (Beltran infamously took strike three from Wainwright to end the 2006 NCLS).

Still, going with Beltran instead of paying through the nose for Albert — and being on the hook for a quarter of a billion dollars — seems like a much happier arrangement for St. Louis. And a good way to stay competitive post Pujols.

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