Report: Cardinals interested in Chris Archer

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Discussions between the Cardinals and Rays have “centered on Chris Archer,” Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Nothing appears to be imminent, and it’s worth noting that trade talks between the two sides fizzled out last month. Still, as club president John Mozeliak suggested Saturday, the Cardinals haven’t completely ruled out additional upgrades as they prepare for the upcoming season.

The 29-year-old Archer has drawn considerable interest around the league following a strong performance in 2017. The Rays’ ace went 10-12 in 34 starts, earning his second All-Star nomination with a 4.07 ERA, 2.7 BB/9 and 11.1 SO/9 in 201 innings. In September, a brief bout of forearm tightness raised some concerns about his durability, but no major structural damage was revealed and it seems unlikely that he’ll be plagued by the injury again in 2018.

The Cardinals may not have a strong need for another starting pitcher, as they’re currently poised to enter the 2018 season with a rotation featuring Carlos Martinez, Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha, Luke Weaver and newcomer Miles Mikolas. There’s no question that a starter of Archer’s caliber would help them gain an edge over the rival Cubs, however, especially as Lance Lynn has already flown the coop, Alex Reyes is still working his way back from Tommy John surgery and Mikolas has yet to prove that he can duplicate the 2.25 ERA, 1.1 BB/9 and 9.1 SO/9 he posted in NPB last year.

Pujols hits 701st career home run, connects for Cardinals

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ST. LOUIS — Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols hit his 701st home run, connecting Friday night against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Pujols launched a slider from former teammate Johan Oviedo over the Big Mac Land sign in left field at Busch Stadium. The solo drive in the fourth inning made it 1-all.

Pujols faced Oviedo for the first time and made the 24-year-old righty the 456th different pitcher he’s homered against.

The St. Louis star hadn’t homered in a week since hitting No. 699 and 700 at Dodger Stadium last Friday. Pujols had gone 10 at-bats without a home run after two starts and one pinch-hit appearance.

The Busch Stadium crowd gave the 42-year-old Pujols a long standing ovation before he came out of the Cardinals dugout to tip his cap for a curtain call.

Pujols hit his 22nd home run this season for the NL Central champion Cardinals.

Pujols is fourth on the career home run list behind Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714).