The Cardinals officially announced their decision to exercise Albert Pujols’ 2011 option, according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. As anticipated, they chose to pay the first baseman $16MM instead of buying him out for $5MM.
The perennial MVP candidate led the National League in homers (42) for a second consecutive season in 2010. He also batted .312/.414/.596 and played in all but three of his team's games. Since arriving in the major leagues a decade ago, Pujols has played in 143 games or more every season without ever batting less than .312, posting an OBP below .394 or posting a slugging average below .561.
After 2011, the $100MM deal Pujols signed in 2004 will expire and he's scheduled to hit the open market. The Cardinals may look to extend the first baseman this winter and, if they do reach an agreement, they could re-negotiate his 2011 salary. If not, Pujols will likely be a bargain once again.