Albert Pujols Reports To Training Camp, Hopes To 'Revisit' Negotiations After The Season

Albert Pujols has officially reported to Cardinals training camp, and reporters are already starting to ask him about his contract situation. It's going to be a long Spring.

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Albert Pujols Contract: Agent Dan Lozano Releases Statement

The St. Louis Cardinals held a press conference, but with the Albert Pujols contract negotiation window finally ending this morning his agent, Dan Lozano, offered USA Today a terse statement.

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…

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Albert Pujols Press Conference: St. Louis Cardinals Made One Offer January 1

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.

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Albert Pujols Contract Deadline: Distraction Avoidance Not Yet A Success

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.

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Albert Pujols Contract: Deadline Passes, Restaurant Holds Sale On Confetti And Streamers

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.

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Albert Pujols Contract: Extension Talks Between Cardinals And Pujols Are Reportedly Over

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.

Sources: Pujols contract talks are over. Deadline will pass without a deal. Have not been proposals swapped in last 100 hours or soless than a minute ago via Mobile Web

 

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.

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Albert Pujols Contract: Deadline Time Is 11 CST

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…

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Report: Albert Pujols Rejects Contract Offer

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.

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Albert Pujols Contract: No Press Conference

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.

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Albert Pujols Contract: Matt Holliday Would Defer Money

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.

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Albert Pujols, Cardinals Far Apart In Contract Extension Talks

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.

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Albert Pujols's Trade Value: I Don't Want To Think About It

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.

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Albert Pujols Contract: Decatur Sworn To Silence

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. 

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