The Cardinals opened this week’s Winter Meetings by meeting with Dan Lozano, the agent for All-World slugger Albert Pujols. According to B.J. Rains of FOX Sports Midwest, the Cards met with Lozano again on Wednesday.
Lozano is not talking to the media and Cardinals GM John Mozeliak was not willing to divulge any details about the two meetings when asked Wednesday, but it’s safe to assume that loose terms have been exchanged and that both sides have a good idea of what’s going to take place in the coming weeks.
SI.com’s Jon Heyman reported Tuesday that Pujols is seeking “A-Rod money.” But it’s not exactly clear what that means. Does he want a 10-year contract worth $275 million — the exact deal that Alex Rodriguez signed in December of 2007 with the Yankees? Or is he simply requesting a similar average annual salary?
The Cardinals certainly don’t want to shell out a 10-year contract to Pujols, who turns 31 in January, but they should be more than willing to make a seven-year pitch with a $27.5 million annual salary. That comes out to a seven-year, $192.5 million commitment, which is plenty reasonable for a guy with a 1050 career OPS and three MVPs. Pujols still has a ways to go before his playing career is through, but only Barry Bonds, Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth and Ted Williams have better career marks in the OPS department to this point.
Pujols has expressed a desire to put negotiations to a halt once spring training begins in order to avoid an ongoing distraction, so the Cards have until now and late February to put a serious package together. Otherwise, the 21st Century’s best hitter is going to get a whiff of free agency.
And he might really like what he smells.