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Albert Pujols reported to training camp last week without a new contract, and after negotiations to hammer out a new deal broke down, it was announced that any further discussions about his future in St. Louis would be on hold until the end of the 2011 season. Pujols drew the ire of some fans and columnists throughout the situation, and when he reported to camp last week, he made a point of addressing the media early to comment about the process. Similar to how Mark McGwire handled the media last year when he joined the Cardinals staff, Pujols fielded questions up front, then emphasized that he would not be speaking about the subject at all during the long season. I don’t doubt that he’ll refrain from commenting publicly, but I am plenty skeptical of reporters adhering to his request to not be asked anything contract related until next fall.
On Friday, Pujols joined The Morning After Show on KFNS in St. Louis to talk about his career, this year’s Cardinals squad, the injury to Adam Wainwright, and other baseball-specific topics. Finally at the end of the long spot, Pujols was asked how he would handle any instance where he was prodded about his contract during the season. (Transcription via: SRI)
“Well I just think I set up my ground rules and if somebody comes up and asks me, that’s going to be the time that I believe that they’re not respecting what I said here last week or a week and a half ago. And that’s when I’m going to have to tell them ‘hey walk off or don’t ask me that question again. And if they keep asking then I’m going to have to put them in their place. And I’m not afraid to do that because if I just told you guys a week and a half ago that it’s over, there’s nothing to talk about and you’re going to try to trick me or try to bring that question to me, then I think you’re disrespecting me. I don’t agree with that so I’m going to disrespect you too.”
I was hoping we would be able to avoid this, however nuanced, but the Post-Dispatch's religion reporter has officially blogged about the role Albert Pujols' Christian faith plays in public perception of his contract negotiations with the St. Louis Cardinals, and it's... actually not that bad!
Tim Townsend gets a lot of mostly interesting comments from religious leaders and commentators and focuses on that instead of attempting to get inside Pujols' inscrutable head, which is a laudable decision. He also goes through the litany of charitable things Pujols has done since getting his $100 million contract in 2004, and the strange light that sheds on something that could otherwise be characterized as greed.
Most importantly—for me, at least—he attempts to separate greed from the idea of the "fair deal," quoting Scott Lamb—pastor and author of this faith-heavy Pujols biography—as rejecting "any idea that a person's Christianity should cause them to step away from what the market would demand for them." If that were the case I think we would see considerably more owner-sponsored evangelism in MLB clubhouses...
Albert Pujols and the Cardinals were unable to reach an agreement on a contract extension before their self imposed deadline passed at noon on Wednesday. But Albert is still a member of the Cardinals, and he reported to Training Camp this morning. You'll never guess what the reporters wanted to ask him about . . .
"Once the 2011 season is over, we hope to revisit those talks," Pujols said in a statement late Wednesday.
With the talks off until after the season ends, Pujols is now fixated on winning.
"The last thing anyone in this clubhouse needs to worry about, is what's going to happen to me after the season," he added.
So from here on out, let's everybody just talk about Baseball and baseball only, ok? The members of the Cardinals locker room have done a pretty good job of telling everyone who will listen that they won't let it affect them on the field, but I'm not really sure that can ever be the case.
I can see Albert coming out of the gates hitting extremely well just to prove a point, but I can also see him struggling a little bit in the beginning of the season if the contract situation actually does distract him. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.
Lozano describes the contract negotiations as having ended due to “today’s self-imposed deadline”, and goes on to mention that this doesn’t mean Pujols won’t be a Cardinal in 2012—you’d hate to alienate a bidder—"but simply delays negotiations until the conclusion of the Cardinals’ season." Here’s hoping that that five-days-after-the-World-Series window is negotiated while Pujols is still a little hung over from the victory champagne.
He talks also about a “difference of opinion” in understanding Albert Pujols’s true value to a baseball team. I don’t think it’s a difference of opinion—a lot, maybe even a whole lot—so much as a difference in degree, but until we have a solid source on the various leaked versions of the Cardinals’ contract offer it’s impossible to say just how far apart the two sides were.
The Cardinals, for their part, weren’t about to divulge that information, for all Joe Strauss’s in-conference suggestions that being specific didn’t really mean they had to be specific…
Yesterday came and went without a contact extension between Albert Pujols and the St. Louis Cardinals, ending any discussions between the superstar free-agent-to-be and the only team fortunate enough to employ him during his 10-year career; Pujols set a firm deadline to end the talks so he could focus on the season. Now, with the possibility Pujols can leave following this season, some Cardinals fans are up in arms. Does today mark Armageddon for the Cardinals?
Not necessarily, writes SB Nation contributor Rob Neyer. “The Cardinals still have the best player in baseball for the whole season,” he says, “and maybe a winning season convinces them to up their offer, or Pujols to take a little less than he might get from a richer club.” Alternatively, perhaps “a losing season makes everyone’s decisions a bit easier.” There are more possibilities, of course, but those are the major ones.
To be clear, Neyer isn’t trying to put lipstick on a pig with his take, and he admits “this wasn’t a good day for the St. Louis Cardinals.” But Pujols hasn’t left just yet, nor does it appear he even has a foot out the proverbial door. The uncertainty about his future looms large over the franchise, sure, and may become a distraction for the club. But this much remains the same: the Cardinals have Pujols, and no other team in baseball does. That has to be worth quite a lot.
Albert Pujols’s contract deadline has passed, and the St. Louis Cardinals are holding a press conference to give their side of the negotiations that weren’t. John Mozeliak and Bill DeWitt spoke, and while they refused to get into the specifics at all—at one point DeWitt had to clarify to Joe Strauss of the Post-Dispatch that he “got the question” and wasn’t going to answer it.
The biggest revelation: The Cardinals made one offer at the first of the year, although DeWitt was quick to clarify that “exploratory discussions” about altering the deal were made over the course of negotiations. Mozeliak said that the team felt good about the offer it made, adding that, “once he’s in the free agent market he can weigh the free agent market against where we are, and I think that’s something he wants to see.”
The Cardinals don’t plan on opening discussions during the season to honor the Pujols camp’s request, but mentioned several times that they’re willing to listen if Lozano calls.
Mozeliak also shot down any hint of trade talks, saying it’s a decision made from management on down.
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.
Albert Pujols’s long-time insistence that he won’t negotiate a contract with the St. Louis Cardinals during Spring Training is based ostensibly in the distractions it would cause during the baseball season. But so far the media has not filed any notice of their intent to stop distracting—in the Post-Dispatch we’ve already got an article about " teammates caught in the storm."
Jose Oquendo probably has the most astute analysis of the situation, one that makes me wonder what Pujols’s deadline has to offer in terms of distraction insurance: “He’ll say what he has to say early and then move on”, even though, as Goold notes, “the questions continue through spring training and into the regular season.”
Hopefully what he has to say is interesting and a little edifying—that’s all I can ask for at this point. If he has specific contract wants or needs I’d like to know even the vaguest generalities about them. In fact, that would be my question, if I had a press pass: “Hey, Albert, could you say something really vague about what you want from the Cardinals?” Next I’d ask the same question of John Mozeliak, who definitely isn’t getting any relief from distraction with this deadline.
There's been a lot of talk about what kind of value Albert Pujols has on the baseball field. He is the best player in baseball, and he deserves to be paid as such. No body is arguing that. But a Baseball team is a business, and is a $300 million dollar investment in Pujols really a smart business move for the Cardinals? Darren Rovell, the King of all things sports and business related, says no.
Sluggers, like Albert Pujols are a bit harder to figure out. That is, other than to say that he is essentially the Cardinals. That means for the Cardinals to pay that type of money, it would be a defensive move, so as not to lose a huge amount of cash . . .
So, Albert Pujols can’t possibly generate $300 million for the Cardinals on his own. But could he keep the team from financially falling apart over the next decade? Yes.
Rovell is looking at the potential deal strictly in terms of what it does for the value of the franchise. There is no way that Albert Pujols will add $300 million dollars worth of value to the franchise over the course of the contract. But without him, there is no way that they maintain the value that they have now. $300 million is probably not a sound investment, but it is one that the team can't afford not to make. Rovell concludes,
But players are like any asset in business. When companies are considering whether to buy or merge with another business, they are willing to pay a certain multiple of what they are actually worth to seal the deal. That's what the Pujols negotiation is about.
So Pujols isn't worth the contract he is signing, not strictly in the terms of dollars and cents. But the contract is just the price the Cardinals have to pay to stay relevant. But either way, it doesn't seem like an extension is going to come through before the deadline.
With Albert Pujols’s deadline for contract talks having been fruitless, according to multiple reports, the news that “Pujols 5”, the slugger’s eponymous restaurant, had "champagne on ice, balloons and banners at the ready, and the intent to throw a party" has to be pretty rough on any and all St. Louis Cardinals fans who work there.
Some unconfirmed specials for this afternoon—warm champagne; free balloons; banners that say “CON########### ALBERT PUJOLS”, if you’re willing to use the magic marker yourself. they’ve got a great deal for six sadness burgers on the menu, but they’re reluctant to extend it to seven or eight. I’ve been unable to confirm the speculation that Jim Edmonds’s restaurant was preparing for a party all about his attempt to pass a minor league physical.
But the real news in all this is that Albert Pujols has his own restaurant. I was crushed, as a child, when Michael Jordan’s Restaurant closed down soon after my first and only opportunity to go, so I don’t know if I’m ready to be hurt again. For sale: El Hombre plinth, never used.
Something that is being lost in this whole contract extension mess is that even if a deal isn't reached by the deadline, Albert Pujols still has one-year left on his contract. No matter what happens, the Cardinals are still guaranteed one year of Pujols. It isn't very comforting, but it's not like he has to clean his locker out tomorrow afternoon. And Tony La Russa knows that no matter what, he can expect the best from Albert, according to the Associated Press.
"I can't feel better about Albert if he was on a day-to-day contract or a 10-year contract," the 66-year-old La Russa said. "He's got too much pride, he's too committed.
"No matter what happens, Albert will be Albert, and thank goodness for that," he said.
That's the good news. The Cardinals still have the best player in the game for at least one more year. But it isn't as happy an ending as it would be if a contract was reached. Like we've said a number of times, just because the deadline passes doesn't mean that there is no shot Pujols plays in St. Louis beyond this season. He can still decide to listen to extension talks during the season, and he could even sign with the team after the season in an exclusive negotiating period that follows the World Series. Albert Pujols probably won't sign an extension with the Cardinals today, but it is important to remember that it isn't his last chance to do so.
With the deadline a little more than an hour away, it is becoming increasingly unlikely that the St. Louis Cardinals will reach a contract extension with first baseman Albert Pujols.
This is very bad news for Cardinals fans. It had seemed unlikely that a deal would be reached over the last few days or so, but at the same time, there was always a sliver of hope that the two sides would be able to reach a deal.
The fact that the two sides have gone 100 hours (which is kind of a weird way to express that period of time, if you ask me - why not just say four days?) does not bode well for a last minute deal. The two sides have reportedly been in contact the whole time, but neither side has been willing to show the other side their hand. I was hoping that the negotiations were going better than they apparently were. This is just bad news all around.
John Heyman of Sports Illustrated reported last night that the Cardinals had offered Albert Pujols an eight-year contract worth in excess of $240 million.The contract was still considerably short of what the Pujols camp was expecting, and probably wouldn't have been able to make him sign on the dotted line. But as Jeff Sullivan wrote, it was a start.
Speculation is that the eight-year contract offer is worth under $240 million, total. That figure can't be confirmed, and Pujols probably isn't going to take it, but it's the biggest offer the Cardinals have made to date, suggesting that an agreement may actually be reached before Pujols reports to camp. If nothing else, the odds are at least a little better now than they were a few hours ago before word of this offer had leaked.
That seemed all well and good, because it at least showed that the two sides were making progress. But then, just a few hours later, the report was refuted by Yahoo's Tim Brown.
Source close to Pujols camp: Reports of a Cardinals offer today to Pujols is, "inaccurate, reckless and outrageous."
As Sullivan pointed out, it's impossible to know which "source" is correct in this instance, but the second one sure seems a lot angrier. That may mean that he is actually right, or that he is just trying to put up a front. Who knows?
Meanwhile, in the world of certainties, the deadline to sing Albert Pujols to a contract extension is just about an hour and a half away, and we don't know either way what is going to happen. It might be fun if there wasn't so much on the line.
I hate to bring up Deadline Time on this, the most wonderful time of the baseball preseason, but Albert Pujols’s stated end for contract negotiations comes due—after a brief Stan Musial Medal of Freedom Interlude—at 11 AM central time, unless another St. Louis Cardinals legend is awarded a presidential medal before that time.
This has been a long time coming; after last year’s abortive deal and the subsequent, suddenly familiar Spring Training closing of communication channels, the Cardinals and Pujols have never seemed especially close to a deal for two sides who appeared to have wanted each other more than they wanted negotiating leverage. Since then we’ve learned more than we cared to know about Dan Lozano and that if we could just go back in time and give Alex Rodriguez a seven year, $180 million contract, everything would be fine.
I remain convinced that the deadline isn’t really a deadline so much as an unsustainable play at negotiating leverage. But I wouldn’t want John Mozeliak to be convinced about it…
The Cardinals have been relatively tight-lipped about their negotiations with Albert Pujols. The Media has made reports that claim that the negotiations are going anywhere from "well" to "nowhere". With under 24 hours to go until the deadline for extensions passes, it's hard to know exactly where the team and the Pujols camp stand on an extension.
The only thing Cardinals fans can hope for is that the team maintain regular contact with the Pujols camp, and according to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post Dispatch, that appears to be the case.
(Cardinals general manager John) Mozeliak, point man for talks with (Pujols' agent Dan) Lozano, insisted he is not frustrated with the pace or tone of talks. He recognized the significance of Wednesday's deadline while noting that nine months remain before the opening of the next free agent market. (Team Chairman Bill) DeWitt previously has hinted that the club may attempt to extend negotiations beyond what has been portrayed as a fixed deadline. However, DeWitt has declined to comment on talks since arriving at his Florida residence late last month.
That is an important thing to remember, that if the deadline passes without an extension, Pujols isn't automatically a member of another team. They have the entire season to work something out if the Pujols camp is listening, and an exclusive period after the season in which they are the only team that has the ability to negotiate with him. Even if the deadline passes, all is not lost.
The biggest sticking point in the Albert Pujols contract negotiation is that the Cardinals just don't have the money to pay Albert Pujols the amount of money he is asking for in his new contract. That may be the case because they have to pay so much to Matt Holliday, who signed the richest contract in Cardinals franchise history last offseason.
Holliday will make $17 million in each of the next six years garuanteed, and an additional seventh year if the team chooses to pick up his option. It will be hard to pay Pujols the $30 million he is asking for with that contract on the books because the Cardinals likely don't want to pay almost $50 million to just two players when they have an entire roster to fill out. Well Matt Holliday understands that number crunch, and seems willing to defer some of his salary to make a deal happen, no matter how much his agent might not want to hear it.
"I would be willing if they came to me and said, 'Hey, this is what it's going to take to get Albert done. Would you do it again or would you do more?'"
"Scott (Boras) wouldn't like me to say that. But if that's what it took, I would be willing to do that."
The team hasn't asked Holliday to do that yet, and Holliday isn't even sure that it will work. But it shows how important Pujols is to the team that Holliday would be willing to augment his contract to enable the team to sign him. Not take any less money mind you, but it's still a gesture none the less.
There are a lot of factors at play in the Albert Pujols contract negotiations. The primary one appears to be money, and that doesn't sit too well with Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, according to Jayson Stark of ESPN.
St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said Tuesday that he believes the Major League Baseball Players Association is attempting to "beat up" Albert Pujols and his agent in an attempt to get Pujols to sign a record-setting contract.
And that, La Russa said emphatically, "is bull----. That's not the way it should be."
The way it should be, La Russa contended, is that a player in Pujols' position should "look at all the factors. ... It shouldn't just be the most money."
Money may not be the only issue keeping Albert Pujols from signing his extension, but it is the only one that anyone is talking about. The Cardinals want Pujols, he appears to want to be in St. Louis. The only other object of disagreement is the money they will pay him. Because Pujols is the best player in the sport, the union and his representatives want him to be payed as such. Which is fair, so it's hard to blame him.
But at the same time, isn't $25 million a year over eight years enough to play for a city you want to play for? Wouldn't $1 million? I know that's not fair, but that's how regular fans are going to see it. I don't blame Albert Pujols for trying to get the most money possible, but apparently Tony La Russa does.
ESPN baseball analyst Tim Kurkjian appeared on the Mike and Mike morning show on ESPN radio this morning, and you'll never guess what they wanted to talk to him about. Kurkjian thinks that the Cardinals will sign Albert Pujols to an extension, but I think it is really just that he would be shocked if they didn't.
Well the Card are not in a good situation right now, and it just doesn't appear that he is going to sign before reports on Wednesday. Which means in theory, they'll take it and they won't negotiate again until after the season. Which would be frankly terrible news for the Cardinals because then it would be as tony called a terrible distraction for the whole season. Can you imagine opening day in St. Louis and all those fans wondering is he coming back with us?
He then compared the whole situation to what the Twins went through with Joe Mauer last year. They were able to ink him to a contract extension before the season started, thereby avoiding the enormous distraction that would have lasted all season long. But those negotiations wrapped up in March, it seems the Pujols camp won't let it go that long. He continued.
I keep thinking that there is simply no way that the Cardinals can let this guy get away. This would be like Lou Gherig leaving the Yankees in 1928 after just driving in 170 runs. That's not gonna happen. They can't allow this to happen. They have been making sure this was not gonna happen for two years, at least. So if they drop the ball on this in any form, I would be really surprised.
He then speculated that the sticking point is the number of years, not the annual salary, that is a sticking point for the Cardinals. They might be able to pay him the $30 million dollars (what he is seeking over the course of a ten year contract, reportedly) in the first few years of his contract, but they can't afford to pay a 41 year old player $30 million dollars when he may no longer be in his prime.
It's hard for non-millionaire baseball players to grasp the importance between $25 and $30 million, but apparently that's important. But I guess that's a big deal. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go make sure the $2.54 check I just wrote to 7/11 doesn't bounce.
According to Steve Phillips of AOL Fanhouse, the Cardinals and Albert Pujols haven't made any progress in contract extension negotiations.
The length of any new contract for Pujols as well as its average annual value represent massive stumbling blocks to St. Louis. Concerns about both factors have prevented substantive conversations between the two parties in recent weeks and continue to stall talks as the slugger's self-imposed deadline nears.
This is the worst fear of Cardinals fans. That the deadline will pass and the Cardinals and slugger Albert Pujols will not have agreed on a contract extension. It won't mean that his time in St. Louis is officially over, but it is one step towards that conclusion. Phillips continues to analyze the obstacle in the negotiations.
Pujols is looking to be paid as the game's best player, a valuation that would take him north of the 10-year, $275 million deal Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez received after the 2007 season. The Cardinals have no argument that the three-time MVP is baseball's pre-eminent talent, but are maintaining that they simply do not have the resources to pay him as such.
It's easy to look at the contract the Yankees handed out to A-Rod and accuse them of ruining baseball for the rest of us, but it's important to remember that it was just a raise on the already ludicrous contract he had signed with the Texans. So let's blame them if anyone for destroying baseball.
If you listen to the fans, the St. Louis Cardinals need to sign Albert Pujols to a contract extension, no matter what the cost. And who can blame them for having that opinion, he is the cornerstone of that franchise and probably the best player in baseball. But it is going to take a ridiculous contract to keep him in St. Louis (or sign him to another team) and is he really worth that kind of money?
Rob Neyer at SB Nation offers his best guess.
Ultimately, I think the Cardinals simply aren't well-positioned to make a $300 million commitment. The Yankees could make a $275 million commitment because they can, if necessary, eat a big chunk of that $275 million and all you'll hear is a mild burp. But something like that could cripple the Cardinals for years.
Whether or not Pujols will actually demand $300 million from the Cardinals remains to be seen. He deserves to be the highest player in baseball, that is for sure, but does he deserve to be the highest player in baseball in each of the next ten years? That seems a little excessive. Ten years is an awfully long time, and Pujols will be 41 by the time this contract ends.
The Cardinals need to re-sign Albert Pujols, that much is for sure. I'm just not sure they can afford to spend that much money on any one player. Even if he is the best player in baseball.
It's hard to argue with Bernie Miklasz's latest take on the Albert Pujols Contract Armageddon—with contests looming throughout St. Louis as to who can be more easily berated, Albert Pujols and company or Bill DeWitt, it's easy to forget that what we're seeing here is, above all else, a business deal that's just barely begun to take shape. What I've appreciated especially about Miklasz's coverage is his reluctance to take the contract deadline at face value.
I've come to the conclusion that you can either take the deadline or Albert Pujols at face value—not both. If Albert Pujols really wants to avoid distraction, he's going to learn very quickly that an arbitrary deadline that passes and causes his absolute silence will prove incredibly distracting. He'll hear about Albertageddon all year so long as the option remains open for speculation.
So either he admits that the Cardinals and his agent Dan Lozano will have discussions throughout the season, or he admits that he wants to go to free agency. Those are the two least distracting things that he could do, and in either case his best bet is to ignore the deadline.
There had been a proverbial deadline in place for the St. Louis Cardinals to sign Albert Pujols to a contract extension for a while now, but now we have a greater idea of when that might be.
#cardinals request that Pujols deadline shifts to Wed noon Fla time in deference to Musial's honor at White House. Pujols agreed. #stlcardsless than a minute ago via Twitter for iPhoneDerrick Goold
Matthew Leach of MLB.com has a few more details.
Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said Monday that if no deal has been reached, talks between the team and agent Danny Lozano will come to an end on Wednesday at 11 a.m. CT/noon ET.
The deadline is more of a self imposed restriction than one that is actually set in stone. Pujols had expressed interest in a deadline so that contract negotiations wouldn't become a distraction to him and his teammates as the season approached. But all hope is not lost if they can't reach an agreement by Wednesday.
If no deal is reached, it would not necessarily be the end between Pujols and the Cardinals. The club would still have exclusive negotiating rights from the end of the season until five days after the World Series. And even if he were to hit the market, the Cardinals would of course still be free to participate in the bidding.
The USA Today is reporting that Albert Pujols has rejected a contract offer from the St. Louis Cardinals and will enforce his self-imposed Spring Training negotiation deadline. It’s the first anyone’s heard of the Cardinals tendering a formal offer to Pujols, and the first attempt at confirming that the deadline will stand, in spite of its inherent absurdity.
Nightengale also suggests that Pujols is in fact seeking a 10-year contract, which he could be hard-pressed to find in free agency. But it’s still difficult to separate the newly sourced material from the amalgam of fact and speculation that’s attached itself to every tiny piece of Pujols news since the new year. In this article alone we have the Andy MacPhail hypothetical discussion; the Albertcountdown.com website; the Tony La Russa quote about spectacular distraction.
Regardless, it looks like we should know this week just how true the #Albertageddon hashtag will be. At least until Pujols realizes that this will only intensify the distraction that will inevitably surround him all season.
Albert Pujols’s Spring Training arrival will be an incredible ordeal whether he signs a contract prior to his deadline or not, but Jerry Crasnick reports that Pujols won’t hold a press conference if there’s no deal in place. Apparently he didn’t learn anything from last year’s Mark McGwire media circus, which ended as soon as McGwire gave a bad-short-story’s worth of steroids exposition.
I get the feeling Pujols is going to find that whatever distraction he thought he’d avoid by holding to a deadline has only intensified thanks to that deadline’s existence. If he wants to avoid the whisper of the fans, the media, his teammates, his only recourse is to say exactly what he plans on doing for the rest of the season—i.e., “We’re x-million dollars apart, I don’t plan on negotiating between the end of the season and free agency, and did you guys hear Mark McGwire used steroids? And he doesn’t think he would have been awful and useless without them?”
In any case, his current plan is to clam up. Pitchers and catchers and reporters will be reporting soon.
Matt Holliday, signed to a seven-year, $120 million contract before last season to be Albert Pujols’ second banana indefinitely, suggested on an interview with Mike & Mike that he’d defer money from his own long-term contract to help the St. Louis Cardinals work out Albert Pujols’s contract.
Holliday’s contract already has $2 million a year deferred for the length of the contract; said Holliday, “If they came to me and said, ‘Hey, this is what it’s going to take to get Albert done, would you do it again or do more?‘… if that’s what it took, I’d be willing to do that.” Having realized what he said, he added, “Scott [Boras] probably wouldn’t like me to say that…”
Holliday hit .322/.390/.532 with 28 home runs and 103 RBI in his first full season with the Cardinals; after being traded to St. Louis in 2009 he helped the Cardinals to a playoff berth by hitting .353/.419/.604 down the stretch. This public offer probably wipes the last negative feelings out from his ostensibly slow start in 2010.
The St. Louis Cardinals and slugger Albert Pujols, arguably the majors’ best player, are no closer to reaching a contract extension agreement before Pujol’s self-imposed Feb. 16 deadline, reports John Heyman of Sports Illustrated, casting doubt over Pujols’ future as a Cardinal and, in turn, St. Louis’ status as a World Series contender. The sides are far apart in contract negotiations, says Heyman, citing sources around Major League Baseball:
Not only are the Cardinals and their superstar not even on the same page, they’re not even reading the same book. One person, not involved in the negotiations, said he heard the sides were so far apart they were “speaking two different languages.”
Though Pujols can’t become a free agent for another nine months, as Heyman notes, it’s worth noting he and the Cardinals have yet to come up with a mutually beneficial agreement. Pujols wants a deal similar to the 10-year, $275 million one Alex Rodriguez signed with the New York Yankees in 2007, while the Cardinals, says Heyman, “have seemed to want to keep the contract to six years, or perhaps seven, at the outset of the talks.”
In his 10-year career, spent entirely with St. Louis, Pujols has hit for a .331 average, belted 402 homers, and knocked in 1230 runs. His career also includes a Rookie of the Year award, three Most Valuable Player awards, nine All-Star appearances, and one World Series win.
I don’t want to think about Albert Pujols’ trade value, because I don’t want to think about Albert Pujols doing anything except returning to the St. Louis Cardinals for the rest of his career. You hear that, baseball gods? Baseball Prospectus, less excitable than I am, is more interested, and comes away unimpressed.
I’m not sure I see their point here. Certainly Pujols won’t be the subject of a Herschel Walker trade any time soon—he’s only got a year left on his contract, as you might be aware—but big-time deadline trades still happen; the Cardinals sent away their top prospect, Brett Wallace, just two years ago. Pujols is the best player in baseball, and as a result the most valuable to receive midseason.
It’s all moot, though—the Cardinals wouldn’t be doing themselves any favors by dumping Pujols a year early, and Pujols is himself unlikely to allow any trade to go through. It would likely cost the team 5.5-6 wins this year, which would put them well out of playoff contention, and Brett Wallace hasn’t exactly been a roaring success since leaving the Cardinals, anyway. If they lose Pujols… well, we’ll get the draft picks to think about, and then I’ll be locking myself in my bedroom and painting the walls black. That’s its own kind of return.
Albert Pujols' contract negotiations with the St. Louis Cardinals are as secretive as the average comic-book blockbuster's viral marketing campaign, but according to the Post-Dispatch he spilled some secrets in Decatur, Ill., the Soybean and Soybean Smell Capital of the World. It's time for rumors about rumors—what exactly did he say to Bob and Cindy Brady, who won an auction for dinner with the Pujolses at their charity golf outing.
While their daughters received council from hitting and life coach Dee Dee Pujols, who prepared "home run chicken," among other things, some much braver than I would have been got up the gumption to tell him, "We sure hope you'll stay in St. Louis."
The story touches on his response like so: "The comment unlocked something, and Pujols proceeded to tell the men 'off the record' thoughts about the process of his negotiation."
Growing up in Springfield I've seen more than my fair share of commercials for the Bob Brady Auto Mall, but I don't think that's a close-enough relationship for me to unlock something and get at those off the record thoughts. Consider making an offer on one of his Chrysler 300Cs or Hyundai Genesises, and then just move the conversation in that direction while you're signing the check. I'd offer to do it, but I don't have the kind of scratch that would allow me to win an auction for dinner with the Bradys, let alone the Pujolses.
It's time to see just what Albert Pujols meant by his most recent Spring Training deadline for contract talks with the St. Louis Cardinals: Pitchers have begun reporting, namely Jaime Garcia and Kyle McClellan, who are already throwing with Dave Duncan at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Florida. Joe Strauss's multiple unnamed sources (as ever) suggest the Cardinals and Pujols are nowhere close—which means, translating from the hysterical, that they're still discussing a framework, instead of settling on one—and more interestingly offer February 15 as the official date of no return.
Pujols's contract was discussed only briefly last year, with a similar Spring Training end-point, and since then the free agent market has continued to lurch upward in fits and Jayson Werth-influenced starts. Unplaced scuttlebutt has suggested the Pujols camp is talking in terms of a 10 year, $300 million deal, but nobody's actually placed that in anybody's mouth but Jayson Stark.
Pujols is six years older than Alex Rodriguez was when he signed his 10-year, $252 million deal with the Texas Rangers, which remains the generational-player baseline of first resort. He has never been spotted canoodling with Cameron Diaz, which can only help his bargaining position.
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