According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post Dispatch, the St. Louis Cardinals have signed free agent outfielder Carlos Beltran to a two year deal, worth $26 million, with a full no trade clause.

At first glance, you may find it difficult to want to carry on in a world where Michael Cuddyer can get more guaranteed money up front than Carlos Beltran. However, Cuddyer’s $31.5 million from the Colorado Rockies is spread over three years compared to two, and Beltran was apparently weighing a three year offer, rumoured to be from either the Cleveland Indians or Toronto Blue Jays, before accepting this contract with St. Louis.

We also can’t forget that Beltran, who turns 35 years old in April, has spent 260 days on the Disabled List since June, 2009. He may not be the same player he was in 2008, but despite diminished abilities in the field and on the base paths, Beltran still managed to put up well above average numbers at the plate in 2011, which was the first season since 2008 that he had more than 400 plate appearances.

If he can remain healthy, the Cardinals will have found an inexpensive way to retain some of the value they lost when Albert Pujols signed his ten year, $254 million contract with the Los Angeles Angels. Despite Beltran not being as good as he once was in the field, he’s still a marked improvement over Lance Berkman, who will replace Pujols at first base next season and likely see a rise in the value he offers to the team, even from the first base position.

Put as simply as possible, it’s a great deal for the Cardinals if Beltran remains healthy, and while I’d feel a little more certain of his health if he had signed with an American League team that could rest his knees with a spell at DH from time to time, he did log over a thousand innings this past year, and still managed to play incredibly well for the San Francisco Giants down the stretch.

And for the record, a brief bit of crowd sourcing on Twitter revealed that 13 out of 17 people believed that Beltran would put up a higher total wins above replacement over the next two years than Cuddyer would over the next three years of his deal.

For New York Mets fans, they are probably getting a kick right now out of Beltran being on the same team as Adam Wainwright.