Cardinals don’t plan on increasing offer to Albert Pujols

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The Cardinals reportedly made a nine-year, $210 million contract offer to first baseman Albert Pujols before the start of the 2011 season. That amounts to a $23.3 million annual salary, which is less than Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Howard, Cliff Lee and CC Sabathia will make in 2012 and beyond.

Aware that his client has been more productive than all of the names above, agent Dan Lozano declined that proposal and steered Albert’s eyes toward the free agent market. And that’s where we stand today.

Pujols, already considered one of the greatest hitters of all time and undoubtedly more feared than A-Rod or Howard, is free to sign with any team he chooses.

But will he enough suitors to land the kind of deal he wants? Perhaps not.

According to SI.com’s Jon Heyman, the Cardinals don’t plan on sweetening the offer they made in the spring unless forced to by a competing bid. And that competing bid, so far, hasn’t arrived.

The Marlins met with Pujols in Miami this weekend and even made an offer, but Joe Frisaro of MLB.com was told that the number “probably isn’t close enough” to lure Albert away from St. Louis.

J.D. Martinez tells teams he prefers an outfield role

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Free agent outfielder/slugger J.D. Martinez is reportedly seeking an outfield gig, says Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald. According to Silverman’s sources, Martinez’s suitors have been informed that the veteran slugger would give preference to teams that can offer a corner outfield spot, rather than a DH-only role.

That could spell trouble for the Red Sox, who appear to be Martinez’s biggest suitors so far this offseason. Outfielders Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi are firmly established at the corners, and prior reports from club president Dave Dombrowski suggest that center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is not going anywhere anytime soon (thereby eliminating the possibility of reshuffling the outfield). The DH spot is still wide open for Martinez, who doesn’t seem to be totally closed off to the idea, but any full-time or part-time role on the field is likely off the table at this point.

Of course, the Red Sox aren’t the only ones pursuing Martinez’s services this winter. The 30-year-old slugger has been linked to both the Diamondbacks and Giants in weeks past, and while they have the roster flexibility to accommodate his preferences, they’ll need to clear another massive hurdle: the seven-year, $250 million contract he’s said to be seeking. Both clubs will need to get creative to make such a deal work. The Diamondbacks are rumored to be shopping right-hander Zack Greinke in an attempt to free up some room on their payroll for Martinez, while the Giants appear more inclined to scour the trade market for outfield help than shell out cash for another hefty contract in free agency.