Cardinals don’t plan on increasing offer to Albert Pujols

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The Cardinals reportedly made a nine-year, $210 million contract offer to first baseman Albert Pujols before the start of the 2011 season. That amounts to a $23.3 million annual salary, which is less than Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Howard, Cliff Lee and CC Sabathia will make in 2012 and beyond.

Aware that his client has been more productive than all of the names above, agent Dan Lozano declined that proposal and steered Albert’s eyes toward the free agent market. And that’s where we stand today.

Pujols, already considered one of the greatest hitters of all time and undoubtedly more feared than A-Rod or Howard, is free to sign with any team he chooses.

But will he enough suitors to land the kind of deal he wants? Perhaps not.

According to SI.com’s Jon Heyman, the Cardinals don’t plan on sweetening the offer they made in the spring unless forced to by a competing bid. And that competing bid, so far, hasn’t arrived.

The Marlins met with Pujols in Miami this weekend and even made an offer, but Joe Frisaro of MLB.com was told that the number “probably isn’t close enough” to lure Albert away from St. Louis.