Albert Pujols had a world championship parade to attend in St. Louis on Sunday.
But he also had some paperwork to fill out.
Baseball’s free-agency filing period began at 12:01 a.m. ET on Sunday. Pujols, who just helped the lead the Cardinals to their 11th World Series title, was the biggest name to file. Baseball observers have long anticipated the intense competition among teams this winter for Pujols and rival free-agent first baseman Prince Fielder of the Milwaukee Brewers.
The players union said Sunday afternoon that 148 players filed for free agency in all, including Pujols, Fielder, Mets shortstop Jose Reyes, Giants outfielder Carlos Beltran, Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon, and Padres closer Heath Bell.
Yankees ace CC Sabathia has yet to file but has the right to opt out of his contract and become a free agent. It’s possible that he will agree to terms with the Yankees on a new deal before filing.
Players can begin signing with new teams at 12:01 a.m. ET Thursday. It’s likely that Pujols and Fielder will take much longer than that to join a new team. The baseball free-agent market — at least for big-name players — tends to move more slowly than in basketball or hockey.
Teams will likely avoid signing players to large contracts until after the sport’s new Collective Bargaining Agreement is ratified. That could happen within the next several days, as negotiators for MLB and the players’ union have made progress toward a deal in recent weeks.
The current CBA is set to expire Dec. 11. The agreement should be in place long before then.
• Players who filed for free agency, as supplied by the Major League Baseball Players Association:
Atlanta: Alex Gonzalez, Scott Linebrink, Nate McLouth, George Sherrill, Jack Wilson.
Arizona: Jason Marquis, John McDonald, Xavier Nady, Lyle Overbay.
Baltimore: Vladimir Guerrero, Cesar Izturis.
Boston: Erik Bedard, J.D. Drew, Conor Jackson, Trever Miller, David Ortiz, Jon Papelbon, Jason Varitek, Tim Wakefield.
Chicago Cubs: John Grabow, Reed Johnson, Rodrigo Lopez, Ramon Ortiz, Carlos Pena, Kerry Wood.
Chicago White Sox: Mark Buehrle, Ramon Abraham Castro, Juan Pierre, Omar Vizquel.
Cincinnati: Ramon J. Hernandez, Edgar Renteria, Dontrelle Willis.
Cleveland: Chad Durbin, Kosuke Fukudome, Jim Thome.
Colorado: Aaron Cook, Mark Ellis, Kevin Millwood, J.C. Romero.
Detroit: Wilson Betemit, Carlos Guillen, Magglio Ordonez, Brad Penny, Ramon Santiago, Joel Zumaya.
Florida: Greg Dobbs, Jose Lopez, Javier C. Vazquez.
Houston: Clint Barmes, Jason Michaels.
Kansas City: Bruce Chen, Jeff Francis, Jason Kendall.
Los Angeles Angels: Russ Branyan, Joel Pineiro, Horacio Ramirez, Fernando Rodney.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Rod Barajas, Casey Blake, Jonathan Broxton, Jamey Carroll, Jon Garland, Hiroki Kuroda, Mike MacDougal, Aaron Miles, Vicente Padilla, Juan Rivera.
Milwaukee: Yuniesky Betancourt, Craig Counsell, Prince Fielder, Jerry Hairston Jr. LaTroy Hawkins, Mark S. Kotsay, Francisco Rodriguez, Takashi Saito.
Minnesota: Matt Capps, Mike Cuddyer, Jason Kubel, Joe Nathan.
New York Mets: Miguel Batista, Chris Capuano, Scott Hairston, Willie Harris, Jason Isringhausen, Jose Reyes, Chris Young.
New York Yankees: Luis Ayala, Eric Chavez, Bartolo Colon, Freddy Antonio Garcia, Andruw Jones, Damaso Marte, Sergio Mitre, Jorge Posada.