UPDATE: The Marlins have improved upon their initial offer to Albert Pujols

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UPDATE II: It’s fair to say that Pujols’ agent walked away from tonight’s meeting happy. Scott Miller of CBSSports.com reports that the Marlins have “boosted” their nine-year offer to the free agent first baseman.

No word on the specific terms, but “one person with knowledge of the talks” said negotiations will likely play out more before a decision is reached. The Marlins’ initial reported offer was said to be for significantly less than the nine-year, $198-210 million deal offered by the Cardinals earlier this year, so this may not mean a lot yet.

UPDATE: Jayson Stark of ESPN.com confirms that the Marlins and Pujols’ agent will indeed meet again tonight.

8:03 PM: It appears that the Marlins and Dan Lozano, the agent for Albert Pujols, are already setting up another meeting, having met already once this afternoon.

The Cardinals, too, are due to meet again with Lozano. According to Newsday’s Ken Davidoff, they view the Marlins as a real threat to land the three-time MVP.

St. Louis isn’t known to have made a new offer to Pujols since he turned down a nine-year, $198 million extension in January, and reports indicate that they’re not willing to go much higher now. While $200 million sounds nice, the $22 million per year would put Pujols behind Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Howard, CC Sabathia, Cliff Lee, Joe Mauer, Johan Santana and Mark Teixeira in terms of annual salary.

Despite having already spent $106 million on Jose Reyes and $27 million on Heath Bell, the Marlins look like legitimate suitors for Pujols. They’d certainly have to eclipse the Cardinals’ offer to have a shot, but as much as Pujols is believed to enjoy playing in St. Louis, he may not take kindly to the perceived lack of respect being displayed in contract negotations. Pujols has never come close to earning what he’s worth, and while it’s true that the Cardinals don’t rake in dollars like the Yankees and Red Sox, they did outbid everyone for a premier talent in Matt Holliday two years ago.

Cardinals tab Miles Mikolas for Opening Day start

Miles Mikolas
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The Cardinals have selected right-hander Miles Mikolas as their Opening Day starter, the club revealed Saturday. It’ll mark the first career Opening Day start for Mikolas, who is scheduled to go up against the Brewers when the team hits the road on March 28.

The 29-year-old righty was a strong contender for the 2018 NL Cy Young Award, earning All-Star distinctions and pitching to a career-best 18-4 record with a 2.83 ERA, 1.3 BB/9, 6.5 SO/9, and 4.3 fWAR over 200 2/3 innings. He’s positioned to lead the Cardinals rotation in 2019 as well, with former Opening Day starters Carlos Martínez and Adam Wainwright and some combination of right-handers Jack Flaherty, Michael Wacha, Alex Reyes, and John Gant behind him.

Manager Mike Shildt told reporters that Flaherty, Wacha, Wainwright, and Martínez had all been considered for the honor, but admitted that Opening Day honors were ultimately handed to Mikolas “in recognition of [his performance] last year.” The Cardinals are scheduled to play a four-game set against the Brewers to start the season and will stop over in Pittsburgh for another two games before returning to St. Louis for their opening homestand against the Padres on April 4. Additional pitching assignments have yet to be announced.