Cardinals sign Carlos Beltran to two-year, $26M contract

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According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals agreed Thursday to a two-year, $26 million contract with free agent outfielder Carlos Beltran. The deal includes a no-trade clause.

Beltran batted .300 with a .910 OPS, 22 home runs and 84 RBI in 142 games this past year between the Mets and Giants, and should help St. Louis cope somewhat with the loss of slugger Albert Pujols.

The 34-year-old Beltran will open the 2012 campaign as the Cardinals’ starting right fielder, but could slide over to center once postseason hero Allen Craig recovers from his November knee surgery. It’s a nice get for the Redbirds, who should have a plenty productive lineup if health is on their side in 2012. Here’s how the batting order might shake out on Opening Day:

SS Rafael Furcal
RF Carlos Beltran
1B Lance Berkman
LF Matt Holliday
3B David Freese
C Yadier Molina
2B Daniel Descalso
CF Jon Jay

With Adam Wainwright returning and Chris Carpenter, Jaime Garcia, Kyle Lohse and Jake Westbrook rounding out the rotation, the Cards should have no trouble staying competitive in year one without Albert.

Joe Musgrove shut down with ab discomfort

Joe Musgrove
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Pirates right-hander Joe Musgrove is done for the year after suffering an abdominal wall muscle strain and stress reaction in his pelvic bone. While he isn’t expected to undergo surgery or miss additional time in 2019, he’s been prescribed six weeks of rest before resuming any baseball-related activities.

Musgrove, 25, finished out his third year in Pittsburgh with a 6-9 record in 19 starts, backed by a 4.06 ERA, 1.8 BB/9, and 7.8 SO/9. Despite logging a career-high 115 1/3 innings at the major league level, he’s also been dogged by a string of injuries, from the shoulder strain that robbed him of eight weeks at the start of the season to an index finger infection that kept him sidelined for a minimum 10-day stay on the disabled list in June.

While he works his way back up to full strength yet again, rookie right-hander Nick Kingham is expected to cover for him and will make a spot start during the Pirates’ series finale against the Brewers on Sunday. The 26-year-old righty hasn’t started a single game for the team since August 1, and currently carries a 4.69 ERA, 2.7 BB/9, and 8.1 SO/9 over 71 innings out of the rotation and bullpen.