Some very gritty insight from former World Series MVP David Eckstein:
“Albert would stay if (Jose) Oquendo got the job”
No word on whether Pujols’ agent agrees with that. Also no word on whether or not the Cardinals will lower their offer to Pujols to, say $16 million while hiring Oquendo to find out if Eckstein in right.
Whatever. The hook to all of that is Eckstein’s view that Oquendo is very popular among Cardinals players, particularly infielders who he helps coach, and that Oquendo has been groomed to replace La Russa. Which he may very well have been.
But just as it seems silly to suggest that La Russa’s leaving will impact Pujols’ free agency decision — La Russa wasn’t likely to manage the entire length of Pujols’ next contract anyway — it seems silly to say that the choice of new manager will influence Pujols’ decision making anywhere close to the nature of the contract offer will.
And remember: it’s not at all certain that they’ll hire a manager before Pujols’ contract is put to bed. They may want to — and it might make a lot of sense to — but it may not come down that way.
Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports that the Blue Jays and third baseman Josh Donaldson are tabling extension talks as the two sides weren’t able to build any momentum towards agreement on a new contract.
Donaldson said, “We’re not quite there. That, to me, right now is not the major focus and I’m turning the page.” He added, “I want to play this season and really focus on winning games because, ultimately, our goal is to win a World Series and I don’t want to hinder that at all.” Donaldson also said he expects to hit free agency.
The 32-year-old avoided arbitration with the Blue Jays last month, agreeing on a $23 million salary for the 2018 season. He’s a free agent at season’s end. Last year, the three-time All-Star hit .270/.385/.559 with 33 home runs, 78 RBI, and 65 runs scored in 496 plate appearances. Donaldson missed six weeks in the first half with a calf injury, but was able to return and post terrific numbers, so his health — at least that aspect of it — shouldn’t be a concern going into spring training.
If Donaldson does reach free agency, he’ll join a star-studded group that will likely also include Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Charlie Blackmon, and A.J. Pollock.