La Russa “Almost Certain” To Return To Cardinals

SUNDAY, 9:13am: La Russa's return to St. Louis is "almost certain" at this point, according to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. As Saturday's AP story suggested, it's still unclear whether or not La Russa's entire coaching staff will be retained, but a source tells Strauss that he'd be "very surprised" if the long-time Cardinals skipper didn't return for 2011.

SATURDAY, 11:43am: Free agency will forever be dominated by the players, but managers are going to get a big piece of the action this winter. Arguably the biggest free agent manager is Tony La Russa of the Cardinals, but the AP (via The Boston Herald) reports that the two sides are talking daily, and that a deal could be reached soon. One of the sticking points involves the security of La Russa's coaching staff, who he presumably wants to return intact.

La Russa has been managing the Cardinals since 1996, leading them to seven division titles, eight playoff berths, and two National League pennants, including a 2006 World Series victory. Overall, St. Louis is 1,318-1,110 under his watch. It's worth noting that La Russa has had his fair share of run-ins with players throughout the years, with Colby Rasmus joining the likes of Jim Edmonds and Scott Rolen this year.

At over $4MM annually, La Russa's previous contract made him one of the highest paid managers in baseball. There's no reason to expect that to change if and when a new deal is a reached.

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