The division has been clinched, but the NL Central games today are still very much worth monitoring. The Brewers are a game up on the Diamondbacks in the race for first-round homefield, while the Cardinals need to win today's rubber match against the Cubs to stay on the Braves' heels in the Wild Card race. Here are the rest of today's items of interest out of the NL Central:
- Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes that today's contest could be Albert Pujols' last home game as a Cardinal. Strauss goes on to preview the upcoming Pujols negotiations, noting that the Cards aren't currently inclined to top the nine years and annual figure of $22-$22.5MM they offered last winter.
- Strauss goes on to say that the Cardinals are "wary of bidding against themselves," meaning they likely wouldn't increase last year's offer until they have a better idea of their competition for Pujols.
- Extension talks will resume between the Pirates and Andrew McCutchen this winter, according to Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Biertempfel hears from team and industry sources that the Pirates will likely offer a six-year deal with a club option.
- Kevin Baxter of the Los Angeles Times ranks the best of the upcoming free agent class, with the NL Central duo of Pujols and Prince Fielder occupying two of the top three spots.