Cards Notes: Pujols, Penny, Punto, Eckstein

In a chat with fans today, Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch dished out some information about the Cardinals' remaining offseason wants, some free agent rumors and the Albert Pujols extension talks.  Here are some of the highlights…

  • Strauss thinks it's "feasible" that Pujols could agree to an extension that doesn't stretch over as many years (maybe a five- or six-year deal) but pays him the highest average annual salary in baseball history.  This way Pujols gets his big payout, but it doesn't leave St. Louis on the hook for a huge salary in the seventh or eighth year of a longer contract.
  • The Cardinals are looking for some infield depth at shortstop and third base, plus another starter to provide rotation depth.  They're looking for players with Major League experience to fill these roles, but on non-guaranteed contracts.
  • There is "little enthusiasm" for bringing back Brad Penny.  Strauss isn't sure Penny would be content with serving as an emergency starter out of the bullpen.
  • If the Cards sign a backup infielder, it will have to be an infielder who is "adroit" at third base in case David Freese can't handle the everyday job.  This seems to rule out a return to St. Louis for David Eckstein, but Strauss says Nick Punto "is a popular name within some quarters of the organization."  We haven't heard much about Punto since the Winter Meetings, where the former Twins infielder engaged in "meaningful negotiations" with Cleveland.
  • The Cardinals believe Mitchell Boggs and/or Jason Motte can develop into a solid closer, so there isn't much interest in Rafael Soriano.

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