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Pujols, Cardinals Approach Deadline to Agree on New Contract

Feb. 15 (Bloomberg) -- Albert Pujols and the St. Louis Cardinals said they’ll suspend contract negotiations for the rest of the season if they don’t reach an agreement on a new deal by a club-imposed deadline of noon New York time tomorrow.

A three-time winner of the National League’s Most Valuable Player award, Pujols is entering the final season of an eight-year, $111 million contract. He’s likely seeking a new multiyear contract from the Cardinals that would make him among the highest-paid players in Major League Baseball history.

Cardinals General Manager John Mozeliak said he remains in contact with Pujols’s agent, Danny Lozano, on a regular basis as the deadline approaches. He declined to give specifics on the negotiations in comments to reporters yesterday at the team’s spring training facility in Jupiter, Florida.

“It’s a process and obviously it’s an iconic player,” Mozeliak said, according to MLB.com. “When you go through an experience like this, you learn a lot. But frustration isn’t coming to mind.”

Mozeliak wouldn’t comment on a USA Today report that Pujols, 31, rejected a recent contract offer from the Cardinals, who start spring training tomorrow. Pujols has spent his entire 10-year major league career with St. Louis, making nine All-Star teams while hitting .331 with 408 home runs and 1,230 runs batted in.

Even if the sides don’t reach agreement by tomorrow, the Cardinals would retain exclusive negotiating rights with Pujols from the end of the 2011 regular season until five days after the World Series. Pujols, who will make $16 million this season, would become a free agent after that window and the Cardinals would have to bid against other teams to retain him.

To contact the reporter on this story: Erik Matuszewski in New York at matuszewski@bloomberg.net

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

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