Heyman: Cards have “virtually no chance” of deal with Pujols

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Albert Pujols is scheduled to arrive at the Cardinals’ spring training complex on February 16, one week from today. He has asked that all talks involving a contract extension be put to an end by the time he unpacks his things and begins preparing for what could be his final year in St. Louis.

In essence, the Cards have one week to lock up the best hitter in baseball or they will risk losing him to free agency next winter.

The two sides agreed early on to keep details of the negotiations out of the media and that agreement has largely been upheld.  But the clock is ticking louder than ever now and reports, whether true or not, are beginning to stream in.  First there was Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports saying that the Cardinals had not yet made a formal offer to the slugger.  Now SI.com’s Jon Heyman is reporting that there is “virtually no chance” an agreement can be reached by Pujols’ self-imposed deadline.

It’s hard to guess where Brown and Heyman might be getting their information.  Perhaps the Cards’ front office is leaking details in the hope of gaining some kind of leverage that, to this point, they have not had.  Or maybe Pujols’ agent, Dan Lozano, is giving out certain information that could potentially help his client.

Whatever the case, Heyman is hearing from someone and from somewhere that the Cardinals and their franchise player are too far apart at the moment to believe that a deal will be struck this spring.  And Brown pretty much echoed that idea on Tuesday in his column.

Pujols is thought to be asking for a contract similar to the 10-year, $275 million behemoth that Alex Rodriguez is currently operating under with the Yankees.  The St. Louis front office, meanwhile, reportedly wants to keep a deal to six or seven years.  That is quite a gap.

Sean Manaea pitches the first no-hitter of 2018

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Athletics southpaw Sean Manaea delivered his first career no-hitter against the Red Sox in a decisive 3-0 victory on Saturday night. Any thought of a perfect game was banished in the first at-bat, when Mookie Betts drew a leadoff six-pitch walk to open the first inning. From there, Manaea was nearly flawless, holding the Sox to four total baserunners and striking out 10 of 30 batters faced — a career record.

Manaea was gifted a three-run lead thanks to RBI doubles from Jed Lowrie and Stephen Piscotty and Marcus Semien‘s solo shot off of Chris Sale in the fifth inning. While the Red Sox managed to draw two walks off of Manaea, they didn’t come anywhere close to plating a run. Andrew Benintendi tried to break up the no-no in the sixth inning with an infield hit down the first base line, but strayed out of bounds and later saw his hit reversed on a call of batter interference.

Entering the ninth inning, the 26-year-old lefty was sitting at just 95 pitches through eight frames of no-hit ball. He quickly deposed Blake Swihart and Mookie Betts with a groundout and fly out, then walked Benintendi on seven pitches. Any threat the Red Sox might have posed was soon eliminated, however, as Hanley Ramirez ground into a force out to complete the no-hitter.

Manaea is the first A’s pitcher to toss a no-no since Dallas Braden’s perfect game against the Rays eight years ago. The last time the Red Sox were on the losing end of a no-hitter was also against an AL West rival, when the Mariners’ Chris Bosio clinched a 2-0 no-no on April 22, 1993. Manaea’s feat is even more outstanding given how dominant the Red Sox have looked this season: prior to Saturday’s defeat, they boasted a 17-2 record and had yet to be shut out during the regular season.