NL Central Notes: Pujols, Oswalt, Pirates, LaHair

The Cardinals and their fans may still be celebrating Friday's World Series victory, but it won't be long before a pair of the club's most prominent members will face decisions on their futures. Cards president Bill DeWitt III spoke to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports about Albert Pujols and Tony La Russa, two men without contracts for 2012:

"I don't want to prognosticate at all, but in the next week or so we'll hear from [La Russa]…. Albert may take a little while, I guess…. Who knows? Maybe we'll get something done in the quiet period (during which teams are only permitted to negotiate with their own free agents). But if you've waited this long, you're probably going to see what's out there."

Here are the rest of the morning's notes and rumors from the NL Central:

  • Bryan Burwell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch is surprised by DeWitt's lack of urgency regarding Pujols, and wonders if it's a good idea to allow the slugger to be wooed by teams who may be more aggressive than the Cardinals.
  • Fielding Reds-related questions for the Dayton Daily News, Hal McCoy says it's unlikely that Cincinnati makes a play for Roy Oswalt.
  • The Pirates will likely look at second- or third-tier free agents, but they won't make a huge splash this winter, writes Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Biertempfel says the Bucs will be shopping for a catcher, a first baseman, and starting pitching, naming Jason Varitek, Rod Barajas, Jeff Francis, and Chris Young as a few possible targets.
  • In a Twitter exchange, Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker and Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus discuss Bryan LaHair of the Cubs and former Pirates outfielder Lastings Milledge, two players being eyed by Japanese teams. Goldstein suggests the Cubs would like to hang on to LaHair, but hears rumblings that Milledge could sign in Japan as early as next week (all four Twitter links).

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