Albert Pujols

The Cardinals met with Albert Pujols’ agent today

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Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak told reporters that he met with Albert Pujols’ agent Dan Lozano today, according to B.J. Rains of FOXSportsMidwest.com.

Mozeliak wouldn’t classify the talks as “negotiations” and cautioned that he doesn’t intend to provide regular updates to the media in regards to a contract extension.

“This is not going to be negotiated in the media,” Mozeliak said. “When and why things happen, I think both Dan and I would like to keep that private and confidential. I think that’s how we’ll proceed. You’re not going to get a play-by-play and we’re not going to announce if we’re talking or not. At some point if we feel there needs to be a public statement and we both agree on it, then we’ll do it.”

“Rather than me be coy every time you guys ask, just understand that’s his request and I’m perfectly happy working under those conditions. If we have a chance to do something, it just makes more sense to do it confidentially.”

Mozeliak has previously indicated that he hopes to get something done before Christmas, so if all goes well, the next time we’ll hear about this situation from either the team or Pujols’ representatives is when they are ready to make an official announcement on an extension. Pujols is obviously in his own stratosphere, but Cardinals fans have to feel good about Adrian Gonzalez’s pending contract extension with the Red Sox, as it seemingly takes one potential suitor out of the bidding.

Cardinals, Dexter Fowler agree to a five-year, $82 million deal

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Dexter Fowler #24 of the Chicago Cubs reacts during the seventh inning against the Cleveland Indians in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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The Cardinals have officially signed outfielder Dexter Fowler to a five-year, $82.5 million contract. Fowler will also get a full no-trade clause.

The Cardinals gave Fowler a bigger deal than many speculated he’d get, as some reports predicted he’d get something in the $52-72 million range. His skills, however — he’s a fantastic leadoff hitter who plays a premium defensive position — definitely earned him some major dough. Fowler hit .276/.393/.447 with 13 homers, 48 RBI and 13 steals over 125 games in 2016 for the World Series champion Cubs.

For the Cardinals, this will allow Matt Carpenter to move down to the middle of the batting order and will shift Randal Grichuk to left field. It also takes a prime piece from the Cardinals’ biggest rival. For their part, earlier this offseason the Cubs signed former Cardinal center fielder Jon Jay. So that’s fun.

Are the Cardinals about to go on a free agent binge?

John Mozeliak AP
Associated Press
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The Cardinals have always emphasized building from within. In the 2016-17 offseason, however, they may end up being one of the bigger free agent buyers. At least according to some informed speculation.

St. Louis is already in agreement with Dexter Fowler. But Derrick Goold and Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch write today that the Cardinals “could become more aggressive than previously believed,” with Mark Trumbo and Edwin Encarnacion as “possible pursuits.” Worth noting that separate reports alleged some interest on the part of the Cards front office in free agent third baseman Justin Turner.

The Cardinals are already losing their first round pick due to the Fowler signing, so any other top free agent won’t cost them more than the money he’s owed. And as far as money goes, the Cardinals have a great deal of it, despite being a small market team. They have a billion dollar TV deal coming online and Matt Holliday and Jaime Garcia are off the payroll now. Spending big on a free agent or three would not cripple them or anything.

Encarnacion or Trumbo would be first baseman, which wold fly in the face of the Cards’ move of Matt Carpenter to first base (and, at least as far as Encarnacion goes, would fly in the face of good defense). Getting either of them would push Carpenter back to second, displacing Kolten Wong, or over to third, displacing Jhonny Peralta. If you’re going to do that, I’d say that Turner would make more sense, but what do I know?

Either way, the Cardinals may be entering a pretty interesting phase of their offseason now. And an unfamiliar one as, quite possibly, the top free agent buyer on the market.