You’ve all heard the details by now.
Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols will make $16 million this season via a club option. It’s a bargain rate, but this is also his last year under contract with the club and he will become a free agent if he is not locked up by next winter.
The slugger has informed the St. Louis front office that he doesn’t want negotiations to extend into the 2011 regular season because he thinks it could become a distraction.
In other words, the clock is ticking.
Earlier this winter the Cardinals expressed a desire to keep their negotiations with Pujols and his representatives out of the media. They’ve either done a good job of that thus far or there is nothing go on.
Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com caught up with Cardinals CEO Bill DeWitt Jr. on Wednesday and got every packaged response in the book when he asked about the Pujols extension talks.
“We’ve got time between now and then to get things done,” DeWitt said. “I’m hopeful. But these are big deals, and we’ll make every effort to get it accomplished.
Spring training is a long period of time — six weeks. Whether it’s reporting date, or a week after, I don’t view it as, ‘If it’s not done by this day, then . . .’ I don’t see a specific day.
We’re not that far along.”
The Cardinals almost certainly know where they stand with Pujols and his representatives. Unless the two sides have simply been exchanging pleasantries for the past couple of months, it seems likely that contract numbers have at least been thrown around. Now it’s all about finding a middle ground, and they have about 10 weeks to accomplish that feat.
The Mets have begun working outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Neil Walker at first base as potential insurance in the event Lucas Duda continues to experience back discomfort, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Duda has been sidelined recently due to back spasms and missed all but 47 games last season as a result of a stress fracture in his lower back.
Manager Terry Collins spoke about Bruce’s work at first base on Sunday, saying, “I liked everything I saw today. “It looks like he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the hands, he’s got the arm angle. He made some throws in our drills that you wouldn’t expect an outfielder to be able to make, but yet he does. If that’s where we have to go, I think we’ll be fine.”
Bruce has only three games’ worth of experience at first base at the major league level, but still has high expectations for himself. He said, “I am going to work at it. I want to give myself a chance and the team a chance. I am not going to go over there and be a butcher. It’s just not the way I go about my business on the baseball field and it wouldn’t be fair to the team if I wasn’t capable to do it, so I am going to work at it and we’ll see what happens.”
The Mets made Bruce available via trade over the offseason but didn’t get an offer that whet their appetite. As a result, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out in the Mets’ crowded outfield.
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.
There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.
Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.