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Rumor Mill: Cardinals favored to land Beltran

I try not to put too much weight in these sorts of predictions, because up until the day he signed with the Angels, it was the consensus of the "experts" that Albert Pujols was a lock to re-sign with the Cardinals.

But, that being said, most of the national sports writers I follow seem to be convinced that Carlos Beltran will wind up in St. Louis.

According to Fox, ESPN and CBS reports, Beltran is being pursued by the Redbirds, Red Sox, Blue Jays and Rays. The Red Sox are nearly at their financial limit and are said to be interested more in pitching than an outfield bat -- especially since DH David Ortiz accepted arbitration to guarantee his return in 2012. The Blue Jays are believed to have won the bidding for Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish which will greatly limit their financial flexibility and the Rays just didn't have all that much cash to start out with.

Of course the wild card in this whole situation is that the Cardinals seem to be reluctant to pay out a three-year deal to a guy who is going to be on the back half of his thirties during the entire course of the deal. And then there is the fact that Beltran has managed to be healthy for more than half a season only once in the last three years.

Hopefully Beltran will be reasonable since it seems his options are as limited as those of the Cardinals now that the Twins, Rockies and Diamondbacks have settled their outfield pictures with the signings of Josh Willingham, Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel, respectively. He's sort of running out of seats in the free agent game of musical chairs. But, then again, Dan Lozano is his agent and he doesn't seem to be the sentimental type when it comes to negotiations.