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Heyman: Cards have “virtually no chance” of deal with Pujols

Feb 9, 2011, 7:03 PM EDT

Yadier Molina, Albert Pujols

Albert Pujols is scheduled to arrive at the Cardinals’ spring training complex on February 16, one week from today. He has asked that all talks involving a contract extension be put to an end by the time he unpacks his things and begins preparing for what could be his final year in St. Louis.

In essence, the Cards have one week to lock up the best hitter in baseball or they will risk losing him to free agency next winter.

The two sides agreed early on to keep details of the negotiations out of the media and that agreement has largely been upheld.  But the clock is ticking louder than ever now and reports, whether true or not, are beginning to stream in.  First there was Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports saying that the Cardinals had not yet made a formal offer to the slugger.  Now’s Jon Heyman is reporting that there is “virtually no chance” an agreement can be reached by Pujols’ self-imposed deadline.

It’s hard to guess where Brown and Heyman might be getting their information.  Perhaps the Cards’ front office is leaking details in the hope of gaining some kind of leverage that, to this point, they have not had.  Or maybe Pujols’ agent, Dan Lozano, is giving out certain information that could potentially help his client.

Whatever the case, Heyman is hearing from someone and from somewhere that the Cardinals and their franchise player are too far apart at the moment to believe that a deal will be struck this spring.  And Brown pretty much echoed that idea on Tuesday in his column.

Pujols is thought to be asking for a contract similar to the 10-year, $275 million behemoth that Alex Rodriguez is currently operating under with the Yankees.  The St. Louis front office, meanwhile, reportedly wants to keep a deal to six or seven years.  That is quite a gap.

  1. Mike Luna - Feb 9, 2011 at 7:12 PM

    I still don’t understand where Pujols is going to go besides St. Louis. Any team that might be willing to pay him what he wants [and probably deserves] already has 1B locked up.

    The Cubs or Angels might be interested, but even they don’t seem willing to spend much money at the moment.

    And, if I remember correctly, Prince Fielder will be a FA next year, too. Wouldn’t a team looking to spend a lot of money be better served asking him to play 1B if for no other reason than the fact that he’ll be the 2nd best option on the market and that much cheaper?

    • Drew Silva - Feb 9, 2011 at 7:28 PM

      For what it’s worth — and I didn’t really want to litter the post with this — I still think it gets done. My guess is the Cardinals are waiting to truly get the negotiations underway so that they can gain some actual leverage.

      For the past couple of months, they’ve had none. But if Albert really wants to stay in St. Louis — and he has said about a million times that he does — he may be open to moving down from his current asking price a few days (or hours) before his self-imposed deadline.

      I think Brown’s report jibes with that thought. The Cards haven’t yet made an offer. Because, well, why would they until the day or night before the deadline?

      • Jonny 5 - Feb 9, 2011 at 8:15 PM

        Is there a possibility that the cards actually save money by allowing him to become a FA in a market where the teams willing to shell out huge contracts already have the first base slot filled with more than adequate players? Are any other teams willing to go 10 years 27 per? Could they be banking on few takers here to save a few million bucks? It wouldn’t be an insult to him if nobody is giving him A-rod offers, then the Cards sign him at whatever it takes. At this point it looks like it’s A-rod money or no dice.

      • Drew Silva - Feb 9, 2011 at 8:42 PM

        Maybe. I’m of the belief that both the Yankees and Red Sox will try for him if he reaches free agency. I know it’s easy to say “they’re set at first base and Albert wouldn’t want to DH,” but I think he would be fine with splitting time between first and DH for the right amount of money.

      • schlom - Feb 9, 2011 at 9:03 PM

        There is no way that the Yankees would pass on Albert Pujols because they have already have Mark Teixeira. Pujols is good enough that it makes sense for the Yankees to get rid of Teixeira (if they want to leave the DH spot open) even if they have to eat a significant amount of his remaining money owed.

      • Jonny 5 - Feb 9, 2011 at 9:03 PM

        Do you think they’ll really go after him with an A-rod type deal? That’s huge. And at this point a luxury tax. It would mean 270 + 90 million for the RS And 270 + 108 million for the Yankees, who also need pitching. Assuming they remain over the cap.

  2. spudchukar - Feb 9, 2011 at 7:26 PM

    People may call me naive. But I do not believe this is entirely, about money, especially in Pujols’ case. His eye is on the prize; Best Payer to Ever Wear A Uniform. Ideally, that uniform would have a bird and a bat, but more importantly, a uniform that would guarantee an honest shot at that goal. I do not mean to imply that he isn’t and hasn’t been a team player, winning has always been the foremost factor in his play, but I believe he doesn’t think those things are mutually exclusive.
    The Cards ownership, may just be cheap and greedy, but for a moment let’s give them the benefit of the doubt, and say they have serious doubts, that his play will maintain a level to support $28-$30 mil in his 9th or 10th year. Maybe Pujols also has similar thoughts, but believes he will still be valuable, and chasing all the records then, and by having the long contract it will insure him playing time needed to achieve his goals.
    So maybe an agreement could be met with additional years, if certain stats are reached contingent on the accepted fact that he plays every day.
    Craig, can contracts be structured like that?

    • Drew Silva - Feb 9, 2011 at 7:34 PM

      Like vesting options? Sure, definitely. Contracts can be structured like that. But Pujols has all the leverage in the world and probably wouldn’t accept. He’ll want pretty much all guaranteed cash.

    • scatterbrian - Feb 9, 2011 at 7:44 PM

      They absolutely can. They’re called incentive clauses. Eric Chavez just signed with the Yankees. He can make $1.5M if he makes the Opening Day roster, and up to $4M more based on playing time and the number of days he’s on the 25 man roster. Google Cot’s Baseball Contracts and check out some of the clauses players have.

      • spudchukar - Feb 9, 2011 at 8:47 PM

        Here is what I am unclear on and thanks for the link info. I checked Cot’s but I still haven’t seen what I was talking about. I get the incentive clauses, deferments and bonuses. I guess the most descriptive way I can say this is to call it an automatic achievement option. I am trying to create an insurance policy for both sides. Cards agree to $29 mil for 6 years. The remaining 4 years will automatically vest, a year at a time if Pujols achieves certain stats, both in total and individual years, and each year thereafter if the levels are maintained. Some other clause that addresses playing time would of course also have to be addressed because we can all see where complications there could arise.
        Then structure other team options at a reduced rate if Pujols fails to meet certain standards, which would also allow Pujols to opt out if he felt it was in his best interest.

  3. spudchukar - Feb 9, 2011 at 7:28 PM

    Bit of the ol’ Freudian slip there with Payer/Player. Maybe my subconscious is trying to tell me I am naive.

  4. spudchukar - Feb 9, 2011 at 7:29 PM

    Sorry Drew, the question should have been addressed to you, my bad.

  5. Charles Gates - Feb 9, 2011 at 8:01 PM

    Dear Albert,
    Get the biggest contract you can for the most years possible.

  6. elmaquino - Feb 9, 2011 at 8:08 PM

    I will still love Albert even if he leaves, but I will lose respect for him and it will be difficult to keep calling him my favorite player

  7. crankyfrankie - Feb 9, 2011 at 8:22 PM

    Why would anyone lose respect for Pujols if he leaves? He is a player who always gives an honest effort every day and has outperformed his contract for years without a groan, gripe or a whine now he has leverage and the bill is coming due. If the team has the upper hand they always use it so why begrudge a player when in the same situation.

    • elmaquino - Feb 9, 2011 at 9:30 PM

      i kbow all that. but he has said before he would stay, and now he may not. if he ditches my team, i will be upset

  8. baseballstars - Feb 9, 2011 at 8:54 PM

    Pujols already gave the Cardinals a home town discount. He wants as much money as he can get now. I think that’s what he deserves. Although any team that gives him a 10 year deal will regret it, he’s still worth more money than any other player.

  9. goforthanddie - Feb 9, 2011 at 9:11 PM

    Can’t blame the Cards for not wanting a 10-year deal. 6-7 years, $180-210m should satisfy both sides.

  10. kiwicricket - Feb 9, 2011 at 9:16 PM

    Riddle me this….When was the last time a team with a 100odd million payroll won consistently with 2 players making nearly half of that???? I can’t help but think of the A-Rod in Texas nastyness, which would be a shame if it ended up like that for a stand up guy like Pujols.
    I’m not sure it’s the end of the world if Pujols doesn’t sign with the Cards. Dam shame, but not the end of the world.

  11. Ari Collins - Feb 10, 2011 at 10:34 AM

    I can kind of sort of squint and see him on the Sox, especially if Boston, monitoring the situation, decides not to extend A-Gone and get whichever of the Fielder/Gonzalez/Pujols trio they feel they’re getting the best deal on. Not likely, but vaguely possible.

    On the other hand, New York’s going to have a 1B/DH duo pretty soon already with A-Rod and Tex. Sure, he’s worth more to NY than other teams due to their revenue, but then there’s the fact that he’s defensively a poor fit for the team, plus the luxury tax. I’m just not sure it makes sense for the Yankees to pay out $42M a year (with the luxury tax) for another 1B/DH, not when another team could pay $30M and get a guy who fits their team better.

    • Ari Collins - Feb 10, 2011 at 10:37 AM

      Accidentally posted this in the wrong Pujols thread. But hey, it’s still relevant.

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