Cardinals want Pujols’ deal to be less than eight years?

Colorado Rockies catcher Miguel Olivo is struck in the head with a bat by St. Louis Cardinals Albert Pujols in the first inning in St. Louis on October 1, 2010. Olivo left the game and went to a local hospital to be checked. UPI/Bill Greenblatt’s Jon Heyman reports that the Cardinals want Albert Pujols’ contract extension to be eight years or less.

The baseball people who are closely following the talks see this situation as difficult to predict and say the early signs are that the sides aren’t all that close to a deal at present. Despite a quick deadline and a lack of proof that there’s serious progress to date, a majority of baseball people still figure the sides will work it out, partly because of the belief that Pujols is worth more to St. Louis than anyone else, and the lack of an obvious outside suitor for an Alex Rodriguez-type deal (see below).

While neither side is talking publicly, early word is that Pujols has used A-Rod’s contract, the richest in baseball and one that guarantees him least $275 million over 10 years (and could be worth as much as $305 million if he hits all his landmark home-run numbers), as the only comp. That comes as no surprise as Pujols is widely considered the best player in the game.

The Cardinals, meanwhile, are said to have initially suggested a contract that would guarantee Pujols at least a bit less than $200 million. The exact particulars of their offer or offers aren’t known, but there is a belief around the game that the Cardinals are hoping to keep the deal to seven years or less. In an interview with at the winter meetings, Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt strongly suggested he had no intention of making a 10-year offer and opined that the Yankees had to “regret” such a deal. writes that Pujols’ camp wants a new deal done by spring training or else they will begin planning for the 2012 free agency period. The Cardinals don’t want that, but they still have to be somewhat fiscally responsible.

Obviously they want their superstar to be a Cardinal for life, but St. Louis isn’t a big market club. The Cards don’t want to shell out $300 million over the course of 10 years to retain Pujols, only to watch the Cubs or Reds win the NL Central every season because they can’t field a team around him.

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Pujols adamant about extending career with Cardinals

Speaking with Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Albert Pujols has intimated that while his future with the Cardinals remains up in the air, he would love to remain part of the team.

Here are the highlights of multiple conversations I had with Pujols this week; some of his comments came during his visit to my radio show on WXOS (101.1 FM).

— On his contract, which is up after 2011:

“People in St. Louis and our fans around the country know where I want to be. And that’s St. Louis. There’s no city like St. Louis to play baseball. And the way the city has embraced me, and my family and our charitable foundation has been unbelievable. I am blessed. So why would I want to go anywhere else?

“I appreciate being a Cardinal. I appreciate wearing this uniform. I appreciate being part of the legacy over the last nine years and I want to continue to do that. I appreciate being around the Hall of Famers. I don’t think there’s many organizations who have that. I think we have the most (living) Hall of Famers, and they come around. You see Stan Musial, Lou Brock, Bob Gibson, Ozzie Smith, Red Schoendienst all the time. They spend time with us. You appreciate talking baseball with all of those guys. So why would I want to go anywhere?

“Do I want to do this right now and take care of this so we don’t need to worry about it? Of course. If it happens, it happens. But there are some things I am able to control and there are other things that are out of my hands that I can’t control. And that’s the truth.”

Pujols is entering his tenth season as a Cardinal, the team with which he has spent his entire career. I’m all for Pujols staying in St. Louis, solely because I appreciate when players and their fans maintain a connection. How many current players have spent ten consecutive seasons (at least 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched) with the same team? They are listed below with their respective team and the number of seasons spent with that team.

Lance Berkman (Astros) – 10
Roy Halladay (Blue Jays) – 11
Andruw Jones (Braves) – 11
Chipper Jones (Braves) – 15
Kerry Wood (Cubs) – 10
Jim Thome (Indians) – 10
Omar Vizquel (Indians) – 11
Ken Griffey Jr. (Mariners) – 11
Jamie Moyer (Mariners) – 11
Luis Castillo (Marlins) – 10
Melvin Mora (Orioles) – 10
Ivan Rodriguez (Rangers) – 12
Jason Varitek (Red Sox) – 12
Tim Wakefield (Red Sox) – 15
Todd Helton (Rockies) – 12
Paul Konerko (White Sox) – 11
Derek Jeter (Yankees) – 15
Jorge Posada (Yankees) – 13
Mariano Rivera (Yankees) – 15

I might be forgetting a few, but the supplied data speaks for itself: gone are the days of firmly establishing a collection of players. Oh, and the Yankees find a good thing and stick with it. Yes, they have have the money to make it happen, but they’ve utilized the same strategy since their inception. It’s great for both the fans and business.

Update: I did some more research and found some surprises. While the list has expanded, it’s still disappointing that many teams haven’t kept a player (granted, there are the retirees and those serving the remainder of their contracts) longer than ten consecutive years in the recent past.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

Pujols in no hurry to sign an extension with the Cardinals

According to, Albert Pujols has no interest in signing a contract extension with the Cardinals this offseason.

“I’m not desperate to sign a contract extension. I still have one year remaining in my contract for 2010 and a club option for 2011. I leave the rest in God’s hands,” Pujols told a Dominican radio station (CDN 92.5 FM) Wednesday during an interview on the sports program “Manana Deportiva.”

Pujols signed a seven-year contract for $100 million after the 2003 season, but the two-time MVP said money will not be the central issue in his next contract.

“We have not sat down to talk about contracts yet. Last week, the GM [John Mozeliak] called me and I told them to talk to my lawyer. But I reiterate that money is not everything, it’s better to have a competitive team that can go to the postseason,” he added.

Pujols, 29, hit .327 with 47 home runs and 135 RBIs this season for the Cardinals, and is a heavy favorite to win the NL MVP.

St. Louis would obviously love to make Pujols a Cardinal for life, but it makes sense that he doesn’t want to rush the process when he doesn’t have to. He’s basically under contract for the next two years (the Cardinals will pick him his option in 2011) and therefore doesn’t have to think about his pending free agency for a while.

I don’t read this as Pujols hinting that he doesn’t want to be a Cardinal. I just think he wants to take things one year at a time, especially when he still has at least two more years left in St. Louis.

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