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Say Goodbye to Beltran, former Cardinals slugger signs with Yankees

When the St. Louis Cardinals signed Johnny Peralta the writing was on the wall that slugging outfielder Carlos Beltran wasn't coming back.

The Redbirds could have shoehorned Beltran into the budget. But they couldn't find enough at-bats for him in the outfield when general manager John Mozeliak went the free agent route instead of trading from the outfield surplus to find a shortstop. And the trade of 2011 World Series MVP for former Anaheim Angels outfielder Peter Bourjous only made the log jam worse.

The other shoe dropped Friday night when Beltran agreed to a three-year contract with the New York Yankees, according to multiple reports.

Beltran's leadership will be missed as much as his bat. But it's easy to understand why the Cardinals wouldn't bend over backwards to bring back Beltran who will be 37 next season. Despite his age and late season fades the last two years, the former Royal, Astro, Met, Giant and Cardinal outfielder was able to command a relatively lengthy deal in a power-starved free agent market.

In the end it seems like Beltran's desire to one day play for the Yankees won out over sentimentality. The Kansas City Royals, the team that drafted Beltran, reportedly made a big push to bring him back for the remainder of his career. But Beltran flirted with the Yankees the last two times he was a free agent before landing elsewhere. This was likely his last chance to end up in the Bronx.

It was indicated in the last 48 hours that Beltran was in no hurry to make a decision on his next home field. But the dominoes started to fall quickly Friday when Robinson Cano defected from New York to the Seattle Mariners for $240 million. Seattle had been interested in Beltran but suddenly it was out of the market. Then another suitor, the Boston Red Sox, re-signed Mike Napoli to play first base. With options dwindling and the Yankees eager to replace Cano's offense, a deal was quickly finalized and Beltran was back in New York.