Cardinals CEO: Pujols talks “not that far along”

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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.