Pujols releases statement on failed negotiations

30 Comments

Unless you were down in a mine all day (do mines get broadband?), you probably heard that the Cardinals failed to reach a contract extension with Albert Pujols before the slugger’s self-imposed Wednesday deadline.

Different numbers have been popping up everywhere since talks were called off at noon, detailing in different tones how far apart the two sides might have been. Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Cardinals offered a salary of greater than $200 million over a nine- or ten-year frame. ESPN’s Buster Olney says the Cardinals low-balled Pujols with something worth $19-$21 million annually and wouldn’t go as long as ten seasons.

We may never get to the bottom of the Cardinals’ actual offer.

Whatever it was — as low as Olney is reporting or a bit rosier like Strauss says — it hasn’t completely offended Pujols. He released a statement to the press late this evening, explaining that he hopes “to revisit those talks” with John Mozeliak and Co. after the season and that he has the “utmost respect” for all members of the Cardinals’ front office and ownership group. To Cardinals fans, Albert said this:

I also would like to take this opportunity to reassure the Cardinal Nation, that my effort both on and off the field will never change. I am devoted to giving 100 percent on the field, every single day, just as I have done the last 10 years. We’re all working together toward a common goal and that is to win a World Championship for the City of St. Louis. The last thing anyone in this clubhouse needs to worry about, is what’s going to happen to me after the season. Let’s focus on winning in 2011 and prepare each day to accomplish our goals as a team. I’m feeling strong, healthy and excited to be at Spring Training in what I hope to be the start of a World Championship season. I can’t wait to get started and God bless.

Yes, this is a tactic. Pujols doesn’t want to be bogged down with questions about the negotiations or his impending free agency this season, and especially not during spring training. He’s undoubtedly hoping that this press release will provide the media with enough of a quote sheet on the matter and that they’ll focus on other stories in Cardinals camp over the next month-plus.

It’s a tactic, but the words in the statement should be comforting to St. Louis fans. Or at least prevent them from completely blaming Albert for the failed talks when he first takes the plate at Busch Stadium this year.

Pujols wants to focus on winning now and will accept competitive bids from the DeWitts next winter. That’s all that “Cardinal Nation” can ask for at the moment from baseball’s best hitter.

Evan Longoria: “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base.”

Joe Scarnici/Getty Images
8 Comments

The Rays were busy over the weekend, trading starter Jake Odorizzi to the Twins, designating All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, and then picking up C.J. Cron in a deal with the Angels. The Rays saved about $4 million — Odorizzi’s $6.3 million less Cron’s $2.3 million salary — and picked up a prospect. They’re still on the hook for Dickerson’s $5.95 million salary until they can find a trade partner, which seems likely.

Those are some head-scratching moves if you’re a Rays fan or a member of the Rays. Dickerson hit .282/.325/.490 with 27 home runs, 62 RBI, and 84 runs scored in 629 plate appearances last season, part of which resulted in his first trip to the All-Star Game. Designating him for assignment is strictly a financial move, assuming he can be traded. The Rays are currently operating with a payroll below $70 million. This comes just a week and a half after Rays ownership proposed the public footing most of the bill for the club’s new stadium. And the Rays had traded third baseman Evan Longoria — then the face of the franchise — to the Giants earlier this offseason.

Longoria expressed sympathy for Rays fans for having to put up with this. Via Andrew Baggarly, Longoria said of the curious Dickerson move, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base. … I’m not going to take too many shots but it’s pretty obvious that guy is a valuable player and didn’t deserve to be DFAd. Corey was our best player last year.”

Longoria isn’t quite on the money there. By WAR, Dickerson ranked fifth among position players on the team, according to Baseball Reference. FanGraphs is also in agreement. Still, it’s indisputable that Dickerson, who turns 29 years old this May, more than pulled his weight. The Rays do not have a surfeit of starting outfielders, so it wasn’t like they were making room for other capable players. Mallex Smith, who put up a .684 OPS in 282 PA last year, is slated to start in left field at the moment. Designating Dickerson for assignment, as well as trading Longoria and Odorizzi, were simply cost-cutting decisions.

The Rays’ M.O. has been part of the problem leading to the current stagnant free agent market (sans Eric Hosmer‘s eight-year deal on Saturday). Teams like the Rays, Phillies, Reds, and Tigers have been explicitly putting out non-competitive teams in order to facilitate a rebuilding process. Longoria is right to express sympathy for Rays fans, who see their favorite team worsening a roster that went 80-82 last year. The Rays haven’t finished at .500 or above since 2013 and doesn’t figure to halt the streak this year.