Albert Pujols sets spring training deadline for contract talks

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That’s the sobering news from the team’s annual Winter Warm-Up event this afternoon.

According to B.J. Rains of FOX Sports Midwest, Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak confirmed that Albert Pujols and his agent Don Lozano will not negotiate a contract extension once spring training begins. It’s not clear if this has been the deadline all along, but some have speculated that the deadline would be the start of the season. Not so.

Consistent with an agreement to keep negotiations confidential, Mozeliak declined to go into any specifics, but he did say that the two sides continue to talk.

“We don’t want to sit here and handicap or guess or kind of give any type of gut feels as to where this thing is headed right now,” Mozeliak said. “In respect to that, that’s all I can really add to the topic at this time. Hopefully in the near future it’s something we can talk more about it.”

“I don’t think it would benefit anybody for me to weigh in at this point.”

By the way, as Rains notes, position players are scheduled to report to the team’s spring training complex in Jupiter on February 18. Ticktock, ticktock…

Cubs to activate Craig Kimbrel on Thursday

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The Cubs will activate reliever Craig Kimbrel ahead of Thursday afternoon’s game against the Braves, Sahadev Sharma of The Athletic reports.

Kimbrel, 31, ended a seven-month stint in free agency, agreeing to a three-year, $43 million contract with the Cubs earlier this month. He has made four minor league appearances, allowing one earned run on two hits and a walk with four strikeouts in 3 2/3 innings.

With an aggregate 3.96 ERA entering Wednesday, the Cubs’ bullpen has been among the better bullpens in the league. Adding Kimbrel, one of the greatest closers of all-time, certainly can’t hurt and will give them some stability in save situations.