JUPITER, Fla. – The St. Louis Cardinals remain hopeful they can keep Albert Pujols a Cardinal for the rest of his career. But after Pujols' self-imposed deadline came and went Wednesday, the Cardinals won't be able to try and make that happen again until after the season.
After negotiations couldn't complete a deal between his agent Dan Lozano and the Cardinals, the 3-time MVP will play out the final year of his contract before revisiting talks about staying with the club after the season.
Pujols informed the Cardinals he wouldn't discuss a contract extension once he arrived in Jupiter for spring training, meaning the club now won't be able to try and resign their slugger until the Cardinals are finished playing in 2011.
"Albert is a great Cardinal, an iconic player and we made every effort to extend his contract," said chairman Bill DeWitt. "We have agreed with him not to discuss it during the season and we will revisit again following the 2011 season, at which time we will again make every effort to keep him as a Cardinal.
"We got our offer out early and had good dialogue throughout. It wasn't that we ran out of time, we were just unable to reach an agreement."
General manager John Mozeliak confirmed that the Cardinals only made one official offer to Pujols, which happened at the beginning of January. Both sides continued to discuss and negotiate aspects of the deal but no additional formal offers were made.
Cardinals, Pujols can't agree
The Cardinals discussed several creative alternatives with Pujols in an effort to bridge the gap in the amount of money each side was wanting per year, but DeWitt wouldn't confirm if that meant any discussions surrounding offering Pujols part ownership in the club, as reports have indicated may have happened.
Pujols has been named to nine All-Star Games in his 10 year career and has had at least a .300 average, 30 home runs and 100 RBIs in all 10 seasons – the longest streak in baseball history. He scored at least 100 runs in nine of the 10 seasons, falling just short in 2007 when he finished with 99 runs.
"We felt very good about the offer we made," Mozeliak said. "We felt that it recognized his iconic status and it also still allowed us to put a successful club out there. As you sit there and reflect today, I certainly believe we made every effort to try and get a deal done."
Mozeliak said the Cardinals will respect Pujols' request to not discuss an extension during the season but, "As I've told them, we're always open for business and we would welcome at any time. If they want to revisit this, we certainly would."
Lozano issued a statement to USA Today that read in part, "At the beginning of this process, Albert decided a timetable needed to be established in which we would negotiate. We exchanged proposals with the Cardinals during that time. While both parties were hopeful that an agreement could be reached, a difference of opinion in determining Albert's value simply could not be resolved. Albert's production over the last 10 years is nothing short of historic.
"He is not only the best player in baseball, and on his way to having a Hall of Fame career, but an iconic figure in sports. The expiration of today's deadline does not eliminate the possibility of Albert returning to the Cardinals in 2012, but simply delays negotiations until the conclusion of the Cardinals' season."
Pujols is expected to arrive at the Cardinals spring training complex on Thursday but it's not known if he will speak to the media or address the stalled negotiations.
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