The Cardinals are not seriously exploring the possibility of trading first baseman Albert Pujols because the superstar slugger, who has full no-trade protection, would veto any swap, writes Buster Olney of ESPN.com.
Pujols, slated to become a free agent after the 2011 season, is willing to work out a contract extension with St. Louis but has said that those talks will be tabled on Feb. 19, his first day at Spring Training, so as not to create a distraction.
That means, as Olney notes, the only remaining possibilities are that Pujols signs an extension with the Cardinals or becomes a free agent at season's end. The next 10 days are critical to the Cardinals' efforts to re-sign Pujols, tweets Olney.
Olney speculates that Pujols, who turned 31 this month, will probably command a contract similar to the one Alex Rodriguez signed with the Yankees following the 2007 season -- somewhere along the lines of 10 years and $275MM.
For his career, Pujols has posted a ridiculous .331/.426/.624 over 10 seasons, never playing fewer than 143 games in any campaign.