6:29pm: Joe Strauss of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch heard that the two sides are "nowhere close" according to someone in Pujols' camp. He says the Cardinals remain reluctant to counter the ten-year, $300MM structure Pujols' side presented last year and are "leery of setting Pujols' market for fear their proposal could be rejected and eventually shopped should he reach free agency."
1:06pm: Contract talks between the Cardinals and Albert Pujols are headed in the wrong direction, major league sources tell Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. The clock is ticking as there are less than two weeks until the first baseman’s self-imposed deadline for an agreement. The Cards' position players report to Spring Training on February 18th.
Even though talks between the two sides are fluid, the Cardinals are balking at the 31-year-old’s asking price. The slugger is seeking a contract that will reflect his status as the game's top player, meaning that he's likely looking to top Alex Rodriguez's ten-year, $275MM deal.
If Pujols does hit the open market after the 2011 season, Rosenthal writes that the Cubs, Rangers, and Angels are among the teams that could pursue Pujols. The Mets and Dodgers also could jump into the fray provided that their financial situations improve. The Yankees and Red Sox are obviously set long term at the first base position but Rosenthal posits that either team could get creative in an attempt to land Pujols.