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Cardinals up their offer to Albert Pujols to $220 million

The St. Louis Cardinals have upped their offer to free agent slugger Albert Pujols to $220 million over 10 years, according to a report on mlb.tv.

Despite the alleged appearance of a third team that supposedly offered the three-time National League MVP a 10-year deal worth more than $200 million, the network reports that Pujols has whittled his his list of possible destinations down to St. Louis and Miami.

There is no report if the Cardinals offer includes a full no-trade clause. I am a little unclear on this, but I don't think it needs one because Pujols has been with the same club for five years and in the majors for more than a decade. I assume the major leagues new collective bargaining agreement hasn't changed that rule -- and that Pujols' new contract won't change it.

It is also unclear if the St. Louis offer is guaranteed for all 10 years or if it includes option years. On it's face, it looks like the Cardinals are certainly in the area code of the Marlins' offer which is reported to be $220-$225 million for 10 years. Miami's offer -- and this is the biggest insult for all -- contains a personal services clause that would link Pujols to their club after his playing days. I think that makes it pretty clear that Pujols' legacy as a Redbird would be destroyed should he accept Miami's deal.

I still think the Cardinals could get this done if they made their deal for nine years so it would average $25 million a year, equalling the annual pay of Ryan Howard. Who really cares about that last year with a 41-year-old player? Besides, with deferments that are a certainty, the Cardinals could hold their payroll to about the same annual number so the change wouldn't affect the team's ability to stay competitive.

I just wonder if the reports are accurate because, if Pujols was true to his word about wanting to stay with the Cardinals, it defintely seems like there is more than enough on the table to make that happen. So what's the hang-up?

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