Several news sources report that the talks between Albert Pujols and the Cardinals have ended without a new contract for the team's superstar slugger.
ESPN, USA Today and Yahoo all report that the talks have broken off with an hour before the agreed upon deadline.
I really held out hope that the Redbirds, who were foolish and overconfident in their decision to push off negotiations until the last minute would get serious in the last 48 hours and get a deal done before putting the fans and Pujols' teammates through the agony of a season of uncertainty. But ESPN reports that the Cardinals haven't made an offer in at least four days while Yahoo says it has been at least a week and a half.
That sure sounds like the Birds were never very serious about trying to get something done. The rumors floating around that the Cardinals originally offered Pujols a deal that paid less than $25 million a year don't help. In baseball's bizarro world, that's an insult because it is significantly less not only that the Alex Rodriguez deal Pujols targeted, it's the same amount as Philadelphia's Ryan Howard, a player that pales in comparison to Albert's production.
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The rumored eight-year contract the Cardinals supposedly offered has been disputed by several sources. If they made the offer at all, talk is that it was still hovering around the $25 million per year mark, a level the Redbirds knew Pujols wouldn't accept.
We also know that when Pujols' people tried to get creative and asked for a piece of the Cardinals in place of cash that the front office shot that proposal down as too "complicated."
Now we'll see if Pujols stands firm on his pledge not to negotiate after he reaches camp. This is a ridiculous stance because the idea that negotiations would be more of a distraction than endless speculation about whether Albert would leave the club is nothing but laughable.
I hope something can be worked out before the start of the season. If it can't Pujols really needs to re-think his statement that he would reject any attempt to trade him and allow the Cardinals to get on with their transformation into the post George Brett Kansas City Royals.