Albert Pujols

UPDATE: Angels, mystery team make run at Albert Pujols

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2:30 a.m. EST update: ESPN’s Jayson Stark reports that no decision from Pujols will come in before the Winter Meetings conclude Thursday. Again, if you missed it, Pujols is believed to be deciding on similar 10-year offers from the Angels and Cardinals, as well as a possible offer from a mystery team (perhaps the Cubs). The Angels and Cardinals are both believed to be in the $200 million-$220 million range.

12:27 a.m. EST update: According to Nightengale, the Angels made a 10-year offer to Pujols on Wednesday worth more than $210 million.

10:50 p.m. EST update: Rosenthal says he can’t confirm that the Cubs are the third team in with the Cardinals and Angels. The Cards are quiet, with GM John Mozeliak saying he has “nothing to share” and declining comment on all topics.

10:40 p.m. EST update: There was a lot of truth to Bob Nightengale’s report, apparently. FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal and Yahoo’s Tim Brown are reporting that the Angels are “in strong” on Pujols.

Rosenthal says there’s also a third unidentified club in the mix with the Cardinals and Angels. Since he doesn’t name the Cubs, it’s possible there’s another suitor.

7:20 p.m. EST update: Jon Heyman is feeling feisty tonight. He says that Pujols’ agent, Dan Lozano, “might have to come up with a new ‘mystery’ team to use against the Cardinals” if C.J. Wilson signs with the Angels as expected.

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Even though the Marlins pulled their 10-year proposal after being told they were out of the mix, Albert Pujols still has three offers worth $200 million or more on the table, USA TODAY’s Bob Nightengale reports.

It contradicts a lot of the info that’s out there, but given that Nightengale has been on top of the Pujols saga since the first baseman and the Cardinals were negotiating last winter, his report is not to be taken lightly.

ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick is also reporting that Pujols is negotiating with clubs other than the Cardinals. And he did use the plural, so he doesn’t just mean the Cubs.

The consensus is that Pujols will return to the Cardinals, with Bill Madden reporting earlier that the two sides were merely “a few million dollars apart” on a 10-year contract. The general belief is that they’re offering $20 million-$22 million per year in their proposal. The Cubs may well be in the $25 million-$30 million range, but they weren’t wanting to commit for longer than five or six years.

If there’s a third big offer out there, it might have come from the Angels or Rangers. That’s just speculation, though.

Gerrit Cole named Pirates’ Opening Day starter

BRADENTON, FL - FEBRUARY 19: Gerrit Cole #45 of the Pittsburgh Pirates poses for a photograph during MLB spring training photo day on February 19, 2017 at Pirate City in Bradenton, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
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Right-hander Gerrit Cole is set to take the mound for the Pirates on Opening Day, according to a team announcement on Saturday. It’s a spot that was most recently occupied by former Pirate Francisco Liriano, who made three consecutive Opening Day starts for the club before getting dealt to the Blue Jays last August.

The 26-year-old produced career-worst numbers during his fourth run with the Pirates in 2016, due in large part to bouts of inflammation in his right elbow. He finished the year with a 3.88 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9 over 116 innings before getting shut down in September to avoid further injury to his elbow. When healthy, however, Cole has been lights-out for the Pirates. Prior to his injury-laden campaign last year, he touted a career 3.07 ERA, 2.2 BB/9, 8.5 SO/9 and cumulative 10.2 fWAR from 2013 through 2015.

Cole will go toe-to-toe with the Red Sox during Boston’s home opener on Monday, April 3. Right-hander Jameson Taillon is scheduled to make the second start of the year, while fellow righty Ivan Nova will cover the Pirates’ home opener against the Braves on April 7. The Pirates’ third and fifth starters have yet to be announced.

Brett Anderson and Mike Montgomery could share Cubs’ rotation spot in 2017

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 01:  Mike Montgomery #38 of the Chicago Cubs throws a pitch during the seventh inning against the Cleveland Indians in Game Six of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 1, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon hasn’t selected a fifth starter for his 2017 rotation yet, but told reporters that he could envision left-handers Brett Anderson and Mike Montgomery sharing the spot throughout the year. Neither pitcher was stretched out to the full 200-inning threshold last year, Maddon added, and suggested that the two could alternate innings out of the rotation and bullpen as needed (via MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat).

Anderson, 29, was acquired by the Cubs in January on a $3.5 million deal. He’s coming off a rough 2016, during which he underwent back surgery and missed all but 11 1/3 innings of his last season with the Dodgers. His last full, healthy year in the majors yielded a 3.69 ERA, 2.3 BB/9 and 5.8 SO/9 over 180 1/3 innings with Los Angeles in 2015.

Montgomery, meanwhile, is vying for a rotation spot after pitching almost exclusively from the bullpen during the second half of the Cubs’ 2016 run. The 27-year-old lefty put up a 2.82 ERA, 4.7 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings for Chicago last year, returning in the postseason to post a 3.14 ERA during the Cubs’ championship finish.

Maddon also mentioned the possibility of throwing a sixth starter into the mix, which would help prevent his other starters from getting overworked too early in the year. Either way, Anderson and Montgomery are expected to get a lot of looks early in spring training as rotation spots are finalized in the weeks leading up to Opening Day.