Albert Pujols made some of his most specific comments yet regarding his future in St. Louis on Thursday, telling reporters in the Dominican Republic that he hopes to sign a new contract before the end of the offseason.
“I hope that before the season begins I get an extension,” Pujols said at a news conference on Thursday.
According to the Associated Press, Pujols also said that he hopes to finish his career with the Cardinals, “but that is something that I cannot control.”
A representative for Pujols’ agent confirmed on Thursday that the slugger’s remarks were accurately represented in the AP story.
Pujols, who will turn 31 in January, is entering the final year of a contract he signed before the 2004 season. The club exercised a 2011 option worth $16 million after the season ended, meaning that Pujols’ current deal will end up being worth $111 million over eight seasons.
The club expressed some interest in getting a deal done last winter, but little momentum ever developed. Pujols refused to negotiate once Spring Training started, so the window for making something happen has only once again re-opened.
It’s likely that similar restrictions would be in place this season, meaning that if the sides cannot reach an agreement before the spring, the club would be in a very tight spot with its superstar player. Pujols has complete no-trade protection as a result of having played 10 full seasons in the Major Leagues with at least the previous five all as a part his current team. Thus, if St. Louis wanted to trade Pujols rather than risk losing him to free agency, its options would be limited since Pujols would have to approve any trade.