By Matt Snyder
The St. Louis Cardinals and free agent outfielder Carlos Beltran have agreed to a two-year contract worth $26 million, both Jon Heyman and Scott Miller of CBSSports.com have confirmed. The deal also includes a full no-trade clause. The news of this deal was first reported by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
The World Series champion Cardinals found out a few weeks ago that long-time face of the franchise Albert Pujols was headed to the Angels via free agency. Also, that same week, news broke that outfielder Allen Craig -- who was slotted to move to right field as Lance Berkman moved to first base to replace Pujols -- had surgery and will miss around two months of the 2012 season. So the Cardinals were left with a glaring hole in their lineup. Beltran easily fills that void.
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Beltran will now join a still-potent Cardinals batting order. Yes, losing Pujols hurts, as he's only the best player in baseball, but here's how the lineup could look for the 2012 Cardinals:
1. Rafael Furcal, SS
2. Jon Jay, CF
3. Matt Holliday, LF
4. Lance Berkman, 1B
5. Carlos Beltran, RF
6. David Freese, 3B
7. Yadier Molina, C
8. Skip Schumaker or Daniel Descalso, 2B
With a healthy Adam Wainwright re-joining the starting rotation and the bullpen in better shape than it was when the 2011 season began, don't underestimate the Pujols-less Cardinals.
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