The Cardinals "appear to have firmed" the timetable for talks about a new contract with Albert Pujols according to Joe Strauss of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Twitter link). The team unsurprisingly picked up their first baseman's $16MM option for 2011 last month.
Pujols, 31 in January, has a resume that reads like a video game. He's a .331/.426/.624 career hitter with nine All Star Game appearances in ten seasons, not to mention three MVP awards and five other top four finishes in the voting. Next season will be the final one on the seven-year, $100MM contract he signed before the 2004 season.
GM John Mozeliak indicated that the club might increase its payroll over the next few seasons back in September, something they'll almost certainly have to do to keep their megastar and remain competitive.