The Cardinals did extensive background work on free-agent outfielder Carlos Beltran last week and maintain strong interest in him, according to major league sources.
Other teams remain in the mix, however, and Beltran is weighing a variety of two- and even three-year options, sources say.
A three-year deal might seem like a stretch for Beltran, who is 34 and had injury-marred seasons in 2009 and '10 before appearing in 142 games for the Mets and Giants in '11.
The Brewers, though, just awarded a three-year, $36 million contract to free-agent third baseman Aramis Ramirez, who is only 14 months younger.
Beltran was a more productive hitter than Ramirez last season, ranking 11th in the majors in OPS-plus - combined on-base/slugging percentage adjusted to his league and ballpark. Ramirez ranked 24th in that category.
The Blue Jays, Red Sox and Rays are among the other teams interested in Beltran, sources say. But the Red Sox appear more focused on pitching, and the Rays only would ...