Pujols serious about contract deadline

Updated: January 16, 2011, 4:57 PM ET
By Buster Olney

Logic tells us that the St. Louis Cardinals and Albert Pujols will work out their differences, because the first baseman is to St. Louis what Stan Musial used to be, and Stan The Man has been omnipresent around the Cardinals in the half century since his career ended. The folks who run the Cardinals know how much Pujols means to the franchise and what his departure would mean.

But the deadline that Pujols gave them to work out a long-term deal -- the start of spring training, Derrick Goold writes -- is very real, and if that passes without a contract in place, all bets are off. Thereafter, the talks would shift from a nice, one-on-one conversation between the Cardinals and their star player into a straight bidding war.