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Beltran's path to St. Louis clears as Colorado gets close with Cuddyer

The Rockies are believed to be close to a deal for Twins free agent slugger Michael Cuddyer... which may clear the path for the Cardinals to land power hitting outfielder Carlos Beltran.

Colorado has been rumored to be one of five teams -- the list also includes St. Louis and Toronto -- who have pursued Beltran. But Cuddyer, who can play the infield and outfield corners and a little bit of second base, could fill the Rockies' need for an outfield bat.

Cuddyer's previous team, the Twins, seemed to be the main competition for Colorado. But Minnesota earlier this week signed Oakland outfielder Josh Willingham to apparently fill the spot in the outfield -- and in the payroll -- they had for Cuddyer.

Willingham's deal with the Twins is reported to be for three years and $21 million. Minnesota had reportedly offered Cuddyer the same term for three years and $24 million but the club was told that Colorado had more money on the table.

Beltran has reportedly also asked for a three-year contract, which is something that has put off the Redbirds. St. Louis would prefer a two-year deal in the range of $10 million a season.

Cuddyer, who turns 33 in March, hit .284 with 20 homers and 70 RBIs last season in 139 games with the Twins. But he hasn't seemed to draw much interest from St. Louis. The reason is likely that, while he plays a lot of positions, Cuddyer isn't especially good with the glove at any of them.