Albert Pujols hit Cardinals training camp today and met the press. By all reports he was calm, cool and collected. He said that he’s not just about the money and that he wants to be a Cardinal for life. He said that he has no ill will with the Cardinals over negotiations and that it will be business as usual this season. He also commented on that report that was floating around yesterday that the Cardinals lowballed him:
Pujols said he hopes to remain a Cardinal forever. Also said he and his agent and the Cardinals laughed at reported contract numbers.
If it was just he and his agent laughing I suppose there could be some ambiguity there regarding whether it was laughable because it was a bad report or that the reported low offer was itself laughable. But if the Cardinals were laughing too, it suggests that the notion that they truly tried to offer Pujols a relative pittance compared to his value is a false one and that the report was off the mark. It may have been low — and there are multiple reports saying that it was below Alex Rodriguez-money — but that “not even in the top ten stuff” that was being discussed yesterday is looking less plausible.
And really: if he was really saying that the Cardinals’ offer was laughable, it would have flown in the face of all the good vibes Pujols tried to send out this morning.
Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.
Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.
Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.
The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.
Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.
Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.