Albert Pujols and the Cardinals have “resumed” contract negotiations, according to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post Dispatch.
Strauss reports that general manager John Mozeliak and agent Dan Lozano agreed last month “to keep talks confidential,” but quotes “several sources familiar with the process” as saying the talks have a “positive” tone.
Pujols will become a free agent after this year and has indicated he won’t negotiate once the season starts, so Strauss writes that “the Cardinals are attaching significantly more urgency to negotiating a potential record extension” compared to their unsuccessful talks last winter.
UPDATE: According to Greg Johns of MLB.com, the Mariners and Brendan Ryan have not officially agreed to a new contract, though a deal is believed to be close.
3:45 PM: Three weeks after acquiring Brendan Ryan from the Cardinals for pitching prospect Maikel Cleto the Mariners have avoided arbitration with the infielder by agreeing to a two-year, $2.75 million deal, according to the Associated Press.
Ryan will reportedly earn $1 million this season and $1.75 million in 2012.
He fell out of favor in St. Louis last season by hitting just .223 with a measly .573 OPS and clashing with manager Tony LaRussa, but Ryan is among the elite defensive middle infielders in all of baseball and the Mariners will hope his hitting can bounce back to his .279/.333/.373 line prior to 2010.
Assistant general manager John Abbamondi has left the Cardinals to become a vice president with the Padres, making him the second prominent member of St. Louis’ front office to depart this winter after manager of professional scouting Matt Carroll took a job with the Braves.
Abbamondi had been with the Cardinals for three years, but general manager John Mozeliak indicated that he wanted to change roles from baseball to business and his official title with the Padres will be vice president for strategy and business analysis.
In addition to the pair of prominent departures Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post Dispatch reports that “Cardinals executives reorganized the front office” in September, including reassigning several members of Mozeliak’s staff and “shifting Jeff Luhnow back to amateur scouting/player procurement and promoting John Vuch to farm director.”
UPDATE: Done deal. Laird gets $1 million guaranteed, plus $300,000 in incentives.
Matthew Leach of MLB.com hasn’t been able to confirm the news yet, but Jon Heyman of SI.com reports that the Cardinals are close to signing veteran catcher Gerald Laird.
Laird is coming off a career-worst season in Detroit, hitting just .207 with a .567 OPS, but it’s still surprising that he wasn’t able to land somewhere that could offer more playing time.
With the Cardinals he’ll serve as Yadier Molina’s backup, which tends to be a pretty easy gig. Molina has started 136 and 130 games behind the plate in the past two seasons and has averaged 118 starts in six full seasons in St. Louis. That leaves Laird playing once or maybe twice per week, which will be a big change for a 31-year-old who’s averaged 100 starts in the past four seasons.
Laird would be replacing Jason LaRue, whose career was ended by a concussion suffered from a Johnny Cueto kick to the head.
Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com reports that left-handed specialist Dennys Reyes will likely decide on his new team within the next 48 hours and will probably be choosing either the Phillies or Marlins “unless a new suitor emerges.”
On the other hand, John Hickey of AOL Fanhouse writes that the A’s and Mariners “seem to be going head to head” on Reyes.
Hmm. Whatever the case, it sounds like Reyes has multiple offers after posting a 3.55 ERA for the Cardinals this season.
He’s been a solid reliever for a while now, but it’s worth noting that Reyes’ usage under manager Tony La Russa was incredibly rigid, as he logged a total of just 38 innings in 59 appearances, and his 25/21 K/BB ratio has hardly impressive considering he was facing a left-handed batter 54 percent of the time.