UPDATE: Albert Pujols likely to return to Cardinals, Marlins target Prince Fielder

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6:00 p.m. EST update: Agent Don Lozano called the Marlins and told them they’re out of the running for Pujols, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports. He also reports that Pujols “continues to negotiate with clubs other than the Cardinals.”

4:40 p.m. EST update: Sources tell Bill Madden of the New York Daily News that Pujols and the Cardinals are “a few million dollars apart” on a 10-year contract. It’s worded as more of an encouraging report, than a discouraging one. While the Marlins haven’t given up publically, most everything indicates that they’ve moved on and are now pursuing C.J. Wilson, Mark Buehrle and maybe Prince Fielder.

3:15 p.m. EST update: Still no word from the Pujols camp, but ESPN’s Jim Bowden writes that the “Marlins have clearly moved on from Pujols.” MLB Network’s Tom Verducci says they’ve made a six-year offer to C.J. Wilson.

2:05 p.m. EST update: More from Heyman:

marlins already in pursuit of prince. Signs indicate cards likely to get pujols

1:45 p.m. EST update: While there’s still nothing official, the feeling around the lobby is that it will be St. Louis. Jon Heyman’s latest tweet sums it up:

There’s sense marlins best chance for pujols mighta been last nite. Bad sign when he gave no answer then took meeting w/ stl

///

Sources tell Andy Martino of the New York Daily News that Albert Pujols is likely heading back to the Cardinals and the Marlins have started to shift their attention towards Prince Fielder.

Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post wrote minutes earlier that the Marlins think they’re still in it and that they “gave it a major best shot.” Still, the pendulum does seem to have swung back the Cardinals way after where it was leaning last night.

There are also mixed messages on whether the Marlins would really pursue Fielder if they miss out on Pujols. Most believe they’d concentrate on pitching instead, with Mark Buehrle and C.J. Wilson topping their list. Jon Heyman, though, just tweeted that the Marlins will definitely talk to Fielder if they don’t get Pujols.

Both the Cardinals and Marlins are believed to be offering Pujols about $220 million over 10 years. One big difference: the Cardinals can guarantee him no-trade protection, while the Marlins won’t break team policy to do so. The Cubs have also made Pujols an offer, which is believed to include a significantly higher salary but to be only five or six years in length.

Ronald Acuna tops Keith Law’s top-100 prospect list

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ESPN’s Keith Law has released his annual top-100 prospects list. According to Law, Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna is the number one prospect in baseball.

After blazing through High-A and Double-A ball last season, Acuna was the youngest player in Triple-A in 2017. He was 19 years-old all season long and put up a fantastic line of .335/.384/.534 in 486 plate appearances at Double and Triple-A. He then went on to star in the Arizona Fall League, leading that circuit in homers. Law, who is not one to throw hyperbolic comps around, says, “if Acuna stays in center and maxes out his power, he’s going to be among the best players in baseball, with a Mike Trout-ish profile.”

Acuna, who is 20 now, is likely play the bulk of the season in Atlanta, even if he’s kept down at Triple-A for the first couple of weeks of the season to manipulate his service time, er, I mean to allow him to develop his skills more fully. Or something. Given the presence of reigning Gold Glove center fielder Ender Inciarte, Acuna is not likely to man center for the Braves this year, but Law says he’d be a plus right field defender, which could make the Braves outfield Death to Flying Things in 2018. At least when Nick Markakis is not playing.

Number two on the list: Blue Jays third base prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. As law notes, the name may be familiar but he’s not very much like his old man. Mostly because young Vlad can take a walk. Which is better, even if it’s nowhere near as fun as swinging at balls that bounce in the dirt first.

For the other 98, you’ll have to click through.