SocraticGadfly: Five weeks left on Pujols contract talks - updated

January 16, 2011

Five weeks left on Pujols contract talks - updated

Albert Pujols has again confirmed that the St. Louis Cardinals have until the start of spring training to ink him to a new contract. General manager John Mozeliak has confirmed Pujols' deadline.

Cardinals position players report (voluntary date) Feb. 19, so that leaves five weeks from now.

Pujols, in follow-up commnents, said the deadline is for the good of the team.

Meanwhile, Redbirds owner Bill DeWitt is coming perilously close to whistling in the dark:
No deal by the start of spring training would not necessarily mean Pujols will be moving on. The Cardinals could sign him after next season and DeWitt expressed confidence that Pujols would not let it affect him on the field.

"If we don't sign him in the next four weeks, that doesn't mean he's not going to be a Cardinal," DeWitt said. "We'd love to sign him tomorrow, or whenever."

"Whenever"? As Pujols himself noted, the media's had this story to kick around for two years, because you've done nothing for two years toward resigning him!

Pujols offered some additional thought himself:
Pujols noted that speculation regarding his future, and whether the Cardinals are willing to pay top dollar for the three-time NL MVP, has been swirling for several years. The Cardinals have four other players making more than $10 million a year in outfielder Matt Holliday and pitchers Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright and Kyle Lohse.

"You guys have the opportunity to be writing about this over the last two years," Pujols said. "So what else is there to say? I think everybody knows I want to be a Cardinals and what else is there to say?"

Exactly. That's because DeWitt and Mozeliak have sat on their butts the past two years.

That said, Carp isn't going to get as much money in his next contract and Lohse is gone after his expires. Of course, Wainwright is going to want more!

I'm also going to pick a bit of a bone with ESPN, for saying that spending $8 million on Fat Elvis, Lance Berkman, means the Cards are willing to spend.

It may mean that. It may mean they're prepared to trade Pujols because they have a 1B replacement already in hand. I've thought that ever since the Cards signed him.

Cards writers with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch were split on deal chances earlier this month, though none was hugely pessimistic at that time.

That said, reportedly, Alex Rodriguez type "historical bonuses" could help the Cards complete a deal. Given no Cards-only player has ever hit 500 HRs, and nobody has ever hit 600 in a Redbird uniform, and Lou Brock was the last to 3,000 hits, there's some angles here.

Over six years, barring injury or rapid decline, Pujols will surpass 600 HRs and 3,000 hits, and will easily pass the 1,500 mark in both runs scored and RBIs.

Given that he would be only the third "clean" 600/3,000 player, after Willie Mays and Henry Aaron (making assumptions of some sort about all three), there would be some definite marketing and tie-in dollars.

Of course, just as in A-Rod's case, the players' union would have to sign off on any such contract.

I see something in the neighborhood of 7 years, $200 million. An option, for more per year, could be 5 years, $150 million. (I'm taking this as straight cash, not deferred money or incentive/marketing bonuses.

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