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2011 MLB Hot Stove: St. Louis Cardinals Leading Chase For OF Carlos Beltran, According To Report

Free agent OF Carlos Beltran -- who is expected to sign before Christmas Day -- could be headed to the St. Louis Cardinals. According to Derrick Goold of, the Cardinals are the "leading candidate" to acquire the slugging switch-hitter.

Beltran hit 22 home runs in a season split between the New Yorks Mets and San Francisco Giants. After spending the majority of his early career with the Kansas City Royals, Beltran signed a massive, 7-year contract with the Mets, earning $19.3M in the 2011 season.

As a 35-year-old next year, Beltran figures to earn less than he did with the Mets, but given the strong interest in the center fielder, he could still earn over $10M annually.

Stay tuned to SB Nation St. Louis for more information, and for in-depth analysis on the St. Louis Cardinals, be sure to visit Viva El Birdos or drop by Baseball Nation for more news and notes from around the league.