Beltran deal done
The Cardinals have officially announced that they’ve agreed to a two-year deal with free agent outfielder Carlos Beltran, pending a physical.
The deal is reportedly worth $25-26 million. That would be the largest outlay by the Cardinals to a free agent not already in the organization since Jason Isringhausen received a guaranteed $27 million before the 2002 season.
A switch-hitting outfielder, Beltran has one of baseball’s most well-rounded offensive games. He is a lifetime .283 hitter with both on-base ability (a career .361 average) and power (.496 slugging percentage). He’s one of the most efficient base-stealers in Major League history, with 293 steals in 334 attempts for an 87.7 percent success rate. In 2011, he put up a combined .300/.385/.525 line in 142 games with the Mets and Giants.
Beltran, a three-time Gold Glove winner in center field, moved to right field in 2011 as he made his way back to full strength from knee surgery. He will likely start the 2011 season in right field, with Lance Berkman moving to first base in place of Albert Pujols, while Allen Craig is out due to his own offseason knee operation.
Once Craig comes back, Beltran would probably still play plenty of right field. But he also could get more time in center field, spelling Jon Jay against left-handed pitchers and allowing new manager Mike Matheny a great deal of flexibility in making out his lineup.