Angels pursuing Pujols, too
After landing shortstop Jose Reyes, the Miami Marlins progressed toward an even bigger free-agent splash by offering a 10-year contract to slugger Albert Pujols on Tuesday. The offer to Pujols is valued at more than $200 million.
But the Marlins aren’t alone in challenging the St. Louis Cardinals. The Angels, under new general manager Jerry DiPoto, are engaged in talks with Pujols, a major-league source told FOXSports.com, and could transform what seemed to be a two-team race.
The Angels, who finished 10 games behind the AL champion Texas Rangers, are starving for a slugger like Pujols. Their leading home-run hitter in 2011 was Rookie of the Year runner-up Mark Trumbo with 29, and their only other power threats were the mercurial Vernon Wells (25) and Torii Hunter (23). The team also is concerned about the status of Kendrys Morales, who had his season cut short by injury for the second straight year.
It’s not clear what type of contract the Angels have offered Pujols, in terms of years or dollars. Meanwhile, the money in the Marlins’ offer is apparently acceptable to Pujols, as a source said the two sides are trying to work through no-trade issues.
Late Tuesday, Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, team president David Samson and GM Michael Hill met with Dan Halem of the commissioner’s office; Larry Beinfest, the team’s president of baseball operations, later joined the group. They could have been discussing any number of contractual issues; they may have been checking to make sure a possible Pujols contract would be in accordance with the new CBA.
Asked if the decision was in Pujols’ hands, Loria said, “I wouldn't say that,” without offering further comment. Loria later said the meeting had nothing to do with Pujols, but sources confirm it was, indeed, about matters relating to a possible Pujols contract.
Pujols, who spent his first 11 major league seasons with the Cardinals, wants no-trade protection for the first five years of his next contract, since he already enjoys that privilege with the Cardinals. After that, he would regain his 10-and-5 rights — 10 years of major-league service, five with the same team — and be able to veto a trade. The Marlins will not relent completely on a no-trade clause for Pujols, a source said. A compromise is possible, but Pujols likely will want a significant deterrent.
Asked if the Tuesday evening meeting was regarding a no-trade clause, Samson replied, “We don’t do no-trade clauses.”
The Cardinals also met with Pujols’ camp Tuesday. Pujols has a contract offer in hand from the Cardinals, although Cardinals chairman and CEO William O. DeWitt Jr. declined to say if they matched the Marlins’ 10-year offer. DeWitt said the Cardinals haven’t placed a deadline on their latest offer to Pujols.
Asked about the team’s chances of signing Pujols, DeWitt said, “I’m hopeful but I don’t like to use the word ‘optimistic.’ We’re realistic about the fact that it may not happen.”
DeWitt declined to say whether chances of the Cards re-signing Pujols are better than 50-50. “I don't quote odds,” he said.
Pujols, who turns 32 in January, has led the Cardinals to two World Series titles, including this season. He has a career batting average of .328 with 445 home run and a 1.037 OPS. He was below his career norms last season but still batted .299 with 37 home runs and 99 RBI.