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2012 St. Louis Cardinals Hot Stove: Execs Say Albert Pujols Will Stay

The Cardinals have a number of questions, problems, and opportunities facing them this off-season -- not the least of which is the possible departure of first base slugger Albert Pujols.

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The MLB Hot Stove is heating up and the St. Louis Cardinals have some big questions facing them. Not only do the Cardinals need a new manager, they need to deal with their All-Star first baseman, Albert Pujols, who is a free agent for the first time in his career and is poised to become the highest-paid player in the sport.

In his "Rumblings & Grumblings" column, Jayson Stark of ESPN polled 28 separate MLB executives, and all but one agreed:

...[Pujols] won't even have to bother forwarding his mail -- because he's not going anywhere (except back to St. Louis).

According to Stark's research, the overwhelming majority of baseball executives polled expect the Cardinals to retain the face of their franchise, though the price promises to shatter the Cardinal's modest piggy bank:

The Pujols [contract] prognostications were fascinating. They ranged from 10 years, $300 million to one (mostly tongue-in-cheek) prediction of three years, $90 million. But otherwise, nobody forecast a deal shorter than seven years. And the average contract worked out to 8.5 years, at just over $28 million a year.

A few weeks ago, former Cardinals infielder David Eckstein suggested Pujols would re-sign with the Cardinals if they promoted third-base coach Jose Oquendo to the manager's position, but the Cards have yet to conclude their managerial interviews.

Stay tuned to SB Nation St. Louis for more information, and for in-depth analysis on the St. Louis Cardinals be sure to visit Viva El Birdos. Visit Baseball Nation for more news and notes around the league.