With the deadline to work out a contract extension in the past, St. Louis 1B Albert Pujols is set to become a free agent after the season is over. This could become a disaster for the Cardinals or a benefit for Major League Baseball as a whole.
Reports have stated that Pujols was asking for a 10 year deal worth $300 million to stay with the Cardinals, further reports state that the Cardinals were no where near the $300 million mark. The two sides apparently did not have disputes over the length of the contract, only the compensation.
ESPN reports that the Cardinals and Pujols were not even close to an agreement as the deadline passed, with one report saying that the two sides had not spoken with each other for several weeks. Sources have said thay it isn't that the two sides ran out of time, they weren't even close.
Now that Pujols' self-imposed deadline has past, he has said that he will no longer negotiate until the end of the season to avoid any distractions to the team that a contract dispute would bring. The deadline could have actually cause more of a distraction than it would have prevented, now reporters will swarm the locker room asking anything that moves whether that night's performance might have an effect on the slugger resigning with the team.
Cardinals Manager Tony La Russa has publicly blamed the Major League Baseball Players Association for the failure of his team and Pujols to come to an agreement.La Russa has said that he believes that the Union is trying to "beat up" Pujols and his agent in an attempt to get them to sign a record-breaking contract.
"This is not just arm twisting. It's dropping an anvil on your back through the roof of your house." -Tony La Russa on the pressure on Pujols from the Union.
Is it the fault of the Union? Or maybe it's the Cardinals being unreasonable about perhaps one of the best players in recent memory? Could it be just greed on the part of Pujols? This story will continue to play out for the rest of the season.