Needing to fill the offensive whole left by Albert Pujols' departure, the Cardinals signed free-agent outfielder Carlos Beltran to a 2-year deal worth $26 million.
This deal makes a lot of sense for the Cardinals. By signing Beltran it allows them to move Lance Berkman to first to fill in for Pujols. Unlike many teams, this gives them a legit power threat at that position. Beltran will not have to play centerfield, as the Cardinals already have John Jay there.
The Cardinals are only on the hook for 2 years, and at $26 million it's highly likely they will more than make their money back from Beltran.
Offensively, the Cardinals made up a lot of ground. Last season, Lance Berkman accounted for 106 wRC, while Pujols accounted for 109. The Cardinals lose Pujols' 109 runs, but add Beltran's 102 from last year. Now, we can't predict those totals into next season, but back-of-the-envelope it's a net lose of roughly 7 runs created for the entire season. Even if we go further and assume a difference of 20 runs (roughly 2 wins), this is still a good signing. Given the lesser commitment in dollars and years to Beltran, this is a great move to backfill the lose of Pujols offensively.
Defensively, the Cardinals probably get a little worse, but not significantly. Beltran and Berkman are close as outfielders at this point, and while Pujols was an above average defensive firstbasemen, Berkman should more than serviceable.
Beltran needs to average a little over 2.6 fWAR over the next two years to pay for the deal, and that seems easily doable considering he has finished a season with less than 2.6 fWAR only once since 2001 (injury-shortened season in 2010).
Throw in the return of starting pitcher Adam Wainwright, and the Cardinals go into 2012 in a very good position, much better than many might have though after losing their franchise player to the Angels.