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Cardinals face competition if they want Beltran

If the Cardinals hope to fill the middle of the order void created by the loss of Albert Pujols to free agency, they better be prepared to over-spend.

Several teams are rumored to be interested in the switch hitting free agent flychaser -- and they might be able to offer not only more money but also more guaranteed playing time.

The Rockies are one team that is said to be hotly pursuing Beltran for a starting outfield job and a chance to hit in the friendly conditions of Coors Field. The Redbirds would like Beltran -- if they are willing to spend what it takes to get him -- to play a glorified fourth outfielder role. He would presumably start in right field for the first month or two of the season while the Redbirds wait for Allen Craig to recover from knee surgery. After Craig comes back, Beltran would be likely to split time playing center against tough lefties and right field against some righthanded pitchers.

It's going to be a tall order to overcome both playing time and dollar sign issues in a contract that could be Beltran's last big payday. And, forgive me for saying this, but my belief that location, the fans and a chance to win would do much to sway a guy who has Dan Lozano isn't exactly at an all-time high.

I'm guessing the 35-year-old outfielder is asking for a three-year deal in the range of $30 million. And I'm not sure it's a great idea -- as perfect of a fit Beltran would be for St. Louis -- that it's wise to spend that kind of coin on a guy who has played more than 81 games only once in the last three seasons.