You’ve all heard the details by now.
Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols will make $16 million this season via a club option. It’s a bargain rate, but this is also his last year under contract with the club and he will become a free agent if he is not locked up by next winter.
The slugger has informed the St. Louis front office that he doesn’t want negotiations to extend into the 2011 regular season because he thinks it could become a distraction.
In other words, the clock is ticking.
Earlier this winter the Cardinals expressed a desire to keep their negotiations with Pujols and his representatives out of the media. They’ve either done a good job of that thus far or there is nothing go on.
Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com caught up with Cardinals CEO Bill DeWitt Jr. on Wednesday and got every packaged response in the book when he asked about the Pujols extension talks.
“We’ve got time between now and then to get things done,” DeWitt said. “I’m hopeful. But these are big deals, and we’ll make every effort to get it accomplished.
Spring training is a long period of time — six weeks. Whether it’s reporting date, or a week after, I don’t view it as, ‘If it’s not done by this day, then . . .’ I don’t see a specific day.
We’re not that far along.”
The Cardinals almost certainly know where they stand with Pujols and his representatives. Unless the two sides have simply been exchanging pleasantries for the past couple of months, it seems likely that contract numbers have at least been thrown around. Now it’s all about finding a middle ground, and they have about 10 weeks to accomplish that feat.
After 16 years in the majors, longtime Tigers DH Victor Martinez capped his career with one final start at Comerica Park. Although there are seven games remaining in the club’s regular season schedule, Martinez said he felt he owed it to the fans to record his final at-bat at home. He’ll still cheer the rest of the team on from the dugout when they hit the road for their last six-game stretch on Monday, though he’s not expected to slot into the lineup at any point during their back-to-back away series against the Twins and Brewers.
In order to commemorate the occasion, the Tigers arranged a pregame ceremony to celebrate the veteran infielder’s seven years with the team, during which they presented him with Topps baseball cards, a recliner, a pair of boots, and a saddle, among other honors. Martinez also put in a special request to play first base, a position he hadn’t manned in over two years.
The 39-year-old didn’t waste a single minute of his final start in the majors. He deftly handled an inning-ending out in the top of the first, then laced a rare infield single to short in his first and final at-bat of the afternoon, beating the throw to first and advancing Nicholas Castellanos to second base in order to set up the Tigers’ first run: a two-out RBI single from Niko Goodrum that brought Castellanos home to score.
“I think that at-bat was the perfect at-bat to describe my career,” Martinez told reporters after the Tigers wrapped a 5-4 win over the Royals. “I had to sweat it out. I had to sweat it out the whole way. I had to grind it. That was my whole career.”
Following the hit — and the standing ovation that greeted it — the switch-hitter was promptly replaced by pinch-runner Ronny Rodriguez, who subbed in at second base in the top of the second while Goodrum shifted from second to first base. Taking Saturday’s performance into account, Martinez polished off his big league career with a lifetime .295/.360/.455 batting line, 423 doubles, 246 home runs, 1,178 RBI, and 28.4 fWAR across 1,973 games and three separate stints for the Indians, Red Sox, and Tigers. His accomplishments at the plate have been decorated with five All-Star nominations, two Silver Slugger Awards, and the designated hitter-exclusive Edgar Martinez Award following a career-best campaign in 2014.