Beltran, Cardinals agree to 2-year contract

Carlos Beltran and the World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals

agreed to a two-year contract pending results of a physical, a move

that would fortify the team’s lineup following the departure of

Albert Pujols.

The team disclosed the agreement Thursday night and said it

expects to make a formal announcement shortly after the

holidays.

KMOX, the Cardinals’ flagship radio station, reported the deal

is for $26 million over two years – the same figure cited by a

person familiar with the negotiations who spoke to The Associated

Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because financial

details of the agreement were not announced by the team.

The 34-year-old Beltran batted .300 with 22 home runs, 84 RBIs

and a .385 on-base percentage for the New York Mets and San

Francisco Giants this year. He likely will be the opening-day right

fielder for the Cardinals next season. Lance Berkman is expected to

move to first base, taking Pujols’ spot.

Beltran and Berkman are switch-hitters, giving new manager Mike

Matheny lineup flexibility.

Earlier this month, St. Louis re-signed shortstop Rafael Furcal

to a two-year, $14 million contract and added left-handed reliever

J.C. Romero with a one-year, $750,000 deal. The Cardinals appear to

need only a few spare parts to finalize the roster.

After Pujols signed a $254 million, 10-year contract with the

Los Angeles Angels, Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. said he

expected his team’s payroll to perhaps exceed this year’s total of

$110 million.

Allen Craig, coming off an impressive postseason, gives the

Cardinals another strong option in the outfield but will miss at

least the first month of the season while recovering from knee

surgery.

A six-time All-Star, Beltran began his career with the

cross-state Royals in 1998, three years after Kansas City drafted

him in the second round. The switch-hitter has a .283 career

batting average with 302 home runs and 1,146 RBIs.

”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.”

Beltran faced the Cardinals in a pair of NL championship series,

in 2004 with Houston and 2006 with the Mets. St. Louis won both

series despite several big hits by Beltran.

With a chance to put the Mets in the World Series, however, he

struck out looking to end Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS against Cardinals

right-hander Adam Wainwright.

AP Sports Writer Ronald Blum contributed to this report.