Pujols, Cardinals Unable to Reach Deal Before Spring Training

Albert Pujols and the St. Louis Cardinals failed to agree on a new contract before today’s self- imposed deadline, when the three-time National League Most Valuable Player reports to spring training.

Pujols had said he would suspend negotiations today until after the Major League Baseball season to avoid interfering with the team’s focus. He’ll become a free agent unless he’s re- signed.

The Cardinals made at least one offer to the 31-year-old first baseman, General Manager John Mozeliak said in a televised press conference in Jupiter, Florida, that was attended by other team officials, including Chairman William O. DeWitt Jr.

“We started the process early and we had good dialogue throughout,” DeWitt said. “It wasn’t that we ran out of time, it’s just that we were unable to reach agreement.”

Pujols, entering the final season of an eight-year, $111 million contract, led the National League with 42 home runs and 115 runs scored last year. In his 10-year career, spent entirely with the Cardinals, he has batted .331, averaged 42 homers and 128 runs batted in per season and was an All-Star nine times.

The Cardinals offered Pujols an eight-year contract that may have been worth more that $200 million, Sports Illustrated reported today, citing people familiar with the negotiations. Pujols is due to make $16 million this season. The New York YankeesAlex Rodriguez has the major leagues’ biggest contract, at $275 million over 10 years.

Mozeliak refused to discuss financial details of the Cardinals’ offer, and said the team “made every effort” to reach a deal.

‘Iconic Status’

“We felt very good about the offer we made,” he said. “We felt that it recognized his iconic status and still allowed us to put a successful club out there.”

Mozeliak said the team has conducted midseason negotiations in the past and is prepared to do that if Pujols agrees. Otherwise, Mozeliak said he believed the Cardinals were in position to resume negotiations following the season.

“I don’t think any bridges were burned in this process, and as we look forward to next year, I don’t think we put ourselves in a bad position,” Mozeliak said.

Team Chairman William O. DeWitt Jr. said he believes that Pujols wants to remain in St. Louis. Pujols has said repeatedly that he wants to spend his entire career with the Cardinals.

To contact the reporter on this story: Eben Novy-Williams in New York at enovywilliam@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net

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