Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Updated: December 7, 11:25 AM ET
Albert Pujols yet to make decision
By Jayson Stark
DALLAS -- Tuesday night gave way to Wednesday at baseball's winter meetings. But despite a long, arduous day of complicated negotiations, Albert Pujols still hadn't decided where he's going to play next year and beyond.
The Miami Marlins pressed Pujols and his agent, Dan Lozano, for an answer Tuesday on their latest 10-year offer, which sources say would pay the 31-year-old first baseman more than $200 million and include provisions that would link Pujols to the Marlins beyond his playing career.
However, the St. Louis Cardinals also have a lucrative offer on the table. And while both teams would like to get Pujols' situation resolved as soon as possible, the decision is so momentous and the offers are so involved that Lozano and Pujols informed both clubs late Tuesday the three-time NL MVP needed more time to think.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that the Cardinals' offer could potentially reach $220 million over 10 seasons.
Discussions are scheduled to resume Wednesday, and one source said it's now expected that Pujols will arrive at some sort of decision in the next 24 hours.
Lozano met with both the Marlins and Cardinals multiple times during the day and night Tuesday, sources said. And the negotiations took so many diverse twists and turns that at one point, the Marlins conferred with the commissioner's office about unspecified language in their proposal.
The exact dollar figure the Marlins offered isn't known. But in addition to the dollars in their proposal and the added value that would be derived from Florida's lack of a state income tax, the Marlins have added provisions that would position Pujols as a figurehead of their franchise after his playing career is finished.
Sources told ESPN.com the Marlins' offer does not include a no-trade clause. Instead, the club has included post-playing-days stipulations to demonstrate its commitment to Pujols for years to come.
Nevertheless, the Marlins have asked Pujols to make a decision as quickly as possible, because the team needs to address other needs -- most notably starting pitching.
If the Marlins do get Pujols to agree, they would look to trade first baseman Gaby Sanchez for a starting pitcher. If talks break down with Pujols, they would turn their attention to the free agent starting pitching market. They've spoken extensively with the agents for both Mark Buehrle and C.J. Wilson, and brought both to Florida for tours of their new ballpark.
Meanwhile, the Chicago Cubs spoke to Lozano on Monday and made a qualifying offer to Pujols, according to reports.
The Marlins have approached Pujols much like the way they aggressively pursued Reyes over the weekend in an attempt either to sign the 32-year-old first baseman or move on. Sources said they were trying to determine, once and for all, whether Pujols had serious interest in playing in Miami, or whether he was using the Marlins' offer to increase pressure on the Cardinals to up their own offer.
Jayson Stark is a senior baseball writer for ESPN.com. Information from ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney contributed to this report.