Everyone has arrived in Dallas and it’s time to get down to business. That means, among other things, that the Cardinals will be meeting with Albert Pujols’ agent, Dan Lozano, on Monday afternoon. An industry source confirmed the scheduled meeting.
It’s unclear whether an offer will be tendered at this point, and in fact it’s not entirely clear whether any offer is currently on the table from the Cardinals to their signature player. The club offered a nine-year deal before Spring Training, and it is believed that no improvement upon that offer has been tendered since the season ended, but it’s not even certain that the original offer is still good.
The market for Pujols may gain clarity this week. The Marlins reportedly still intend to pursue the slugger despite significant expenditures on Jose Reyes and Heath Bell, and other clubs will have the opportunity either to make their interest known or to make it clear they are standing on the sidelines.
Cardinals principal owner Bill DeWitt Jr. told reporters on Monday morning that the club still hopes to sign Pujols.
“Obviously we’re going to make every effort to sign Albert and we hope we can make it happen,” DeWitt said. “This week seems to be the week that a lot of these things develop. We should know where we stand and if we don’t have a firm answer.”
The Cubs have been linked to free agents Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder. GM Jed Hoyer would not comment specifically on the two first basemen when asked Wednesday.
“As I’ve stated in the past, we’re a major market team and we’re going to be involved across the spectrum,” Hoyer said. “I’m not going to address whether we’re on or off individual players other than the fact that we’re in contact with a lot of teams and a lot of agents and we’re doing everything we can to improve the team for next year and the future.”
What is not a secret is that Hoyer has been in contact with Kerry Wood’s agent, Pat Rooney, regarding a new deal for the free agent pitcher for 2012.
“We’d love to bring Kerry back,” Hoyer said. “He had a great year last year and he’s an excellent ambassador for the Cubs. The stated goal of bringing Kerry back has been made very clear.”
— Carrie Muskat
FOX Sports cites “Major League sources” saying the Cubs are showing interest in free agents Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder. The report says the Cubs are inquiring about both because there is a small amount of sluggers available in future free agent markets and because of the new restrictions on spending in the Draft under the new CBA.
New Cubs execs Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are trying to rebuild the team, but the reality is that Pujols and Fielder don’t seem to fit their goal to build “a foundation of sustained success.” When Epstein took over the Red Sox prior to the 2003 season, he did sign David Ortiz, but got him for $1.25 million. Pujols and Fielder are looking for long-term mega deals. Those are the kind of deals (ex. Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Zambrano) the Cubs are trying to avoid. Plus, Epstein’s philosophy is to pay for future performance, not past.
— Carrie Muskat
Both the Cardinals and Albert Pujols’ agent, Danny Lozano, are staunchly avoiding giving updates regarding Pujols’ contract negotiations. However, an SI.com report on Monday gave some impression as to what Pujols’ camp may be seeking — something in the neighborhood of Alex Rodriguez’s 10-year, $275-million pact with the Yankees.
According to a story at that site on Monday, “early word is that Pujols has used A-Rod’s contract… as the only comp.” The report goes on to suggest that the Cardinals have little stomach for terms such as those, and that they “are said to have initially suggested” a deal with a similar average annual value but over fewer years.
As the report suggests, it is difficult to envision the Cardinals guaranteeing 10 years to a player who will be 32 at the beginning of his next contract. However, if the sides are already talking about a similar average annual value to Rodriguez’s $27.5 million, that would seem to remove one major potential stumbling block.
Pujols is entering the final year of a contract that will end up paying him $111 million over eight seasons. He has told the club that he will not continue to negotiate once Spring Training starts.
Albert Pujols has no interest in continuing contract negotiations once Spring Training starts, general manager John Mozeliak told reporters on Saturday.
Mozeliak said that he had been told by Danny Lozano, Pujols’ agent, that there is a deadline for getting a new deal done.
“We have been notified that Spring Training would be the deadline,” Mozeliak said.
The GM declined to give any further specifics regarding negotiations. Pujols is entering the final year of a contract that will end up paying him $111 million over eight seasons.
After a holiday break, it appears that talks between the Cardinals and Albert Pujols’ agent are on. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Wednesday that negotiations between the parties “resumed this week” and that the conversations thus far “have taken on a ‘positive’ tone.”
Though some housekeeping remains for the Cards this winter, the club has just about cleared all other major matters off of its docket, allowing the pressing matter of a new deal for Pujols to take center stage. The three-time Most Valuable Player is set to make $16 million in 2011, the final year of a contract that will end up paying him $111 million over eight seasons.
General manager John Mozeliak acknowledged during December’s Winter Meetings in Florida that club and agent spoke twice, but said that the first conversation was more preliminary, rather than any formal negotiation. The Post-Dispatch report Wednesday indicated that the latest discussions have progressed further than that.
It is exceedingly unlikely that Pujols would be willing to negotiate once Spring Training starts, which would leave the two parties approximately five or six weeks to agree to a deal. Otherwise, the club would likely risk Pujols actually reaching free agency at the end of the 2011 season.
Mozeliak made it very clear at the Winter Meetings that both the club and the agent had a desire to keep any negotiations as quiet as possible. Neither he nor Pujols’ representatives could be reached for comment on Wednesday afternoon.
With a series of recent moves, the Cardinals moved much closer to cementing their everyday lineup for 2011. That means that the club can turn at least one eye ahead to 2012, by which time the Pujols Question must be resolved — Albert Pujols’ contract ends at the end of the 2011 season.
It’s not entirely clear when full-on negotiations will begin. But a member of Pujols’ representation team said on Monday that the player’s camp expects to meet with the club during this week’s Winter Meetings in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
Neither the team nor Pujols’ representation has publicly announced a start for negotiations, and in fact they may not. There’s a good chance that any actual negotiations will be kept under lock-and-key as much as is humanly possible.
However, it does appear that dialogue of some sort should begin in the coming days.
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.