UPDATE: Albert Pujols likely to return to Cardinals, Marlins target Prince Fielder

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6:00 p.m. EST update: Agent Don Lozano called the Marlins and told them they’re out of the running for Pujols, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports. He also reports that Pujols “continues to negotiate with clubs other than the Cardinals.”

4:40 p.m. EST update: Sources tell Bill Madden of the New York Daily News that Pujols and the Cardinals are “a few million dollars apart” on a 10-year contract. It’s worded as more of an encouraging report, than a discouraging one. While the Marlins haven’t given up publically, most everything indicates that they’ve moved on and are now pursuing C.J. Wilson, Mark Buehrle and maybe Prince Fielder.

3:15 p.m. EST update: Still no word from the Pujols camp, but ESPN’s Jim Bowden writes that the “Marlins have clearly moved on from Pujols.” MLB Network’s Tom Verducci says they’ve made a six-year offer to C.J. Wilson.

2:05 p.m. EST update: More from Heyman:

marlins already in pursuit of prince. Signs indicate cards likely to get pujols

1:45 p.m. EST update: While there’s still nothing official, the feeling around the lobby is that it will be St. Louis. Jon Heyman’s latest tweet sums it up:

There’s sense marlins best chance for pujols mighta been last nite. Bad sign when he gave no answer then took meeting w/ stl

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Sources tell Andy Martino of the New York Daily News that Albert Pujols is likely heading back to the Cardinals and the Marlins have started to shift their attention towards Prince Fielder.

Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post wrote minutes earlier that the Marlins think they’re still in it and that they “gave it a major best shot.” Still, the pendulum does seem to have swung back the Cardinals way after where it was leaning last night.

There are also mixed messages on whether the Marlins would really pursue Fielder if they miss out on Pujols. Most believe they’d concentrate on pitching instead, with Mark Buehrle and C.J. Wilson topping their list. Jon Heyman, though, just tweeted that the Marlins will definitely talk to Fielder if they don’t get Pujols.

Both the Cardinals and Marlins are believed to be offering Pujols about $220 million over 10 years. One big difference: the Cardinals can guarantee him no-trade protection, while the Marlins won’t break team policy to do so. The Cubs have also made Pujols an offer, which is believed to include a significantly higher salary but to be only five or six years in length.

Cardinals extend José Martínez through 2020

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First baseman/outfielder José Martínez agreed to a two-year contract extension with the Cardinals on Saturday, per a team announcement. MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reports that Martínez will receive $3.25 million in the deal plus incentives if he earns a more stable place within the starting lineup.

Martínez, 30, played 887 games in the minors before making his major-league debut with the Cardinals at the tail end of the 2016 season. The veteran first baseman has been nothing but productive in the three years since his debut, however, and turned in a career-best performance in 2018 after slashing .305/.364/.457 with 17 home runs, an .821 OPS, and 2.3 fWAR through 590 plate appearances. While he brings some positional flexibility to the table, he’ll be forced to compete against Dexter Fowler and Tyler O'Neill for a full-time gig in right field this year, as Paul Goldschmidt currently has a lock on first base.

According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the extension wasn’t solely precipitated by Martínez’s productivity in the majors, but by a competing offer from an unnamed Japanese team over the offseason. Goold adds that Martínez would have earned “significantly more than he would in the majors” had the club sold his rights. In the end, they ultimately elected to ink him to a more lucrative deal themselves. He’ll be eligible for arbitration in 2020.