Joel Sherman of the New York Post typically covers New York's baseball teams, but in today's column he acknowledges that many of the sport's biggest stories are taking place outside of the Big Apple. His number one story to watch as Spring Training gets underway? Albert Pujols' contract negotiations with the Cardinals. An AL executive told Sherman that the Cards' nightmare scenario involves not only failing to extend Pujols, but seeing him end up in a Cubs uniform in 2012. The three-time MVP winner "would be to the Cubs what [Barry] Bonds was to the Giants, but with a nicer face and nine games a year at Busch Stadium," said the exec. Here are the rest of the latest stories on the negotiations:
- Agent Dan Lozano has told multiple teams that the Cardinals have "no chance to sign [Pujols]" before free agency, tweets Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
- The Cards' star slugger turned down the club's offer about two weeks ago, a source told ESPN's Buster Olney (via Twitter).
- Pujols has turned down the latest offer from the club and unless a dramatic change is made, he will announce Tuesday that he's shutting down contract talks for the rest of the season, a person close to Pujols told Bob Nightengale of USA Today.
- St. Louis GM John Mozeliak declined comment on whether the team has made a formal offer to Pujols. Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch hears that no official offer was on the table as of early last week, with the club "expected to present a bid" closer to Pujols' deadline.
- Whether or not an agreement is reached, the Cardinals plan to publicly address the negotiations on Wednesday, Strauss adds.
- Bernie Miklasz of the Post-Dispatch views the Spring Training deadline as merely the "first checkpoint" in extension discussions, calling it "essentially bogus."
- A GM for a larger-market team weighed in on the topic while talking to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe: "[The Cardinals] should stick to a number that makes sense for them, and if it’s not good enough, then you walk away." However, the GM went on to say that he thinks a deal will get done. "They probably have to do it," he said. "Because not doing it would create chaos and possible loss of revenue."