No big new deal for Pujols
Posted: Thursday, February 17, 2011 9:00 pm
By: By TIM REYNOLDS, AP Sports Writer
JUPITER, Fla. (AP) — When Albert Pujols arrived for St. Louis Cardinals spring training this morning, he pulled his black pickup truck into a parking spot reserved for owners.
Odds are, no one will complain.
Pujols arrived early this morning for his first formal workout of the 2011 season, which the Cardinals desperately hope will not be his last in St. Louis.
He showed up, as expected, one day after he and the team failed to reach an agreement on a new contract by a deadline the three-time MVP imposed.
Pujols will not reopen talks with the Cardinals until after the season.
He can become a free agent after the World Series.
“You have to put a deadline ... because you don’t want to bring distractions to the ballclub,” Pujols said this morning during a 25-minute interview session outside the Cardinals’ clubhouse, before his first formal workout of the spring.
Manager Tony La Russa said in recent days that he believes Pujols and agent Dan Lozano were getting pressure to “set the bar” on the new deal from the players’ assocation, a stance the union denied.
Pujols said neither he nor Lozano had been pressured by anyone.
The Cardinals would not reveal their offer, though it was believed to be somewhere around $200 million for eight years, possibly with an opportunity for Pujols to obtain an ownership stake in the franchise once his playing days are complete.
Pujols laughed off the speculation.
“You guys don’t have any clue,” Pujols said. “You guys are way off on the numbers that you are throwing out there.”
There are plenty of big numbers not in dispute.
Pujols will make $16 million this season in his contract’s final year, with $4 million of the money deferred with no interest. A nine-time All-Star, Pujols is the only player in major league history to hit 30 or more home runs each of his first 10 seasons — all with the Cardinals, the franchise he’s often said he wants to remain with for the rest of his career, a stance he reiterated this morning.
Pujols has a .331 career batting average and averaged 41 homers and 123 RBI. He’s also won six Silver Slugger Awards and two Gold Gloves. Last year he batted .312 with 42 homers and 118 RBI and finished second in MVP balloting.
“An iconic player,” Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said Wednesday.
The Cardinals will have a payroll of between $100 million and $110 million this season, and say they can’t go into the huge-money ranges like some of baseball’s biggest spenders like the Yankees and Red Sox — two clubs that would figure to have interest in Pujols once he hits the free agent market. Others are already getting mentioned, like the Rangers, Cubs and Angels.
“What do I want? Hey, I want to be a Cardinal forever,” Pujols said. “That’s my goal.”