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Cardinals lose out on free agent

Free agent Roberto Alomar, who had been pursued by the Cardinals in recent weeks, reached agreement with the Devil Rays on a one-year contract Monday that assures him of being Tampa Bay's every-day second baseman.

The deal, believed to be for a base salary of $600,000 with $100,000 in incentives, is contingent on Alomar passing a physical.

The St. Louis Cardinals also expressed interest this winter in
the 10-time Gold Glove Award winner, whose $1 million salary in
2004 included $350,000 that is deferred until 2009.

Alomar, a 10-time Gold Glove winner and 12-time All-Star, turns 37 in February and played in only 56 games last year because of a broken right hand after being hit by a pitch.

Since hitting .336 with Cleveland in 2001, Alomar has struggled
at the plate -- hitting .266, .258 and .263 the past three
seasons. Last year, he was sidelined from April 21 to June 22 after
being by a pitch and finished with four homers and 24 RBI as he split last season between Arizona and the Chicago White Sox.

The American League leader in career fielding percentage at
.987, the 36-year-old brother of Texas catcher Sandy Alomar Jr. is
276 hits shy of 3,000 and 26 stolen bases short of 500 for his
career -- both third among active players.

Alomar has batted .300 nine times in 17 major league seasons for
San Diego, Toronto, Baltimore, Cleveland, Arizona, the White Sox
and New York Mets. His .300 career average includes a .313 mark in
the AL. He has hit 210 homers, scored 1,508 runs and driven in
1,136 runs in 2,379 games.

An important component of Toronto teams that won the World
Series in 1992 and 1993, Alomar has hit .313 with four homers and
33 RBI in 58 postseason games.

Alomar also ranks third among second
basemen in doubles (504) and is fourth in steals (474) and extra
base hits (794).

In addition to being one of just seven players in major league
history with a .300 average, 400 steals and 500 doubles, he has
stolen 30 or more bases eight times, hit 20-plus homers three times
and drive in more than 100 runs twice.

Information from The Associated Press was included in this report.