Albert Pujols Contract: Remembering The Circumstances Around Matt Holliday's Contract Extension

We've said this before, and we'll say it again. The passing of the deadline today does not mean that Albert Pujols is no longer a member of the St. Louis Cardinals. He is under contract for the next year at least. And it doesn't mean that he won't be a Cardinal in the future. There will still be opportunities to sign Pujols before and even after he hits the open market, according to Matthew Leach of MLB.com.

Though no deal was reached, at least two more stages of the process remain. Even if Pujols refuses to entertain any discussion until the Cardinals' season is over, the Cardinals would still have one more opening. Clubs maintain exclusive negotiating rights with their own free agents until five days after the World Series ends.

After that, Pujols would become a free agent if he were still unsigned, at which time the club could find itself to be the highest bidder. That was the situation last winter, when Matt Holliday re-upped after hitting the open market.

So let's assume that Albert Pujols sticks to his guns and refuses to negotiate a contract during the course of the Season (which keep in mind, lasts about seven months) and they fail to reach an agreement during the exclusive negotiating period, the Cardinals will still have a chance to sign Pujols from the open market. It's exactly what happened with the Cards' other big slugger, Matt Holliday.

And you have to assume that if Pujols hits the open market, the Cardinals will have a natural advantage to retain his services. He has said in the past that he likes playing in St. Louis. It is a team and City that he is familiar and comfortable with. Any other team that tries to sign represents uncertainty. They would likely have to outbid the Cardinals offer by a significant amount to pry him away from the Cardinals. They didn't reach an extension today, but all is definitely not lost.

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