No deal for Pujols, Cards

JUPITER — The Cardinals made Albert Pujols what they said was their best offer.

It wasn't enough.

So get ready, baseball: Pujols seems headed for the open market next fall.

The deadline Pujols set for the Cardinals to reach a new contract agreement passed Wednesday with no deal, making it likely the three-time MVP will become a free agent after the World Series. The Cardinals said they will respect Pujols' wishes and not request more talks during the season, unless their first baseman changes his mind.

"A difference of opinion in determining Albert's value simply could not be resolved," Pujols' agent, Dan Lozano, said.

The Cardinals would not reveal their offer, believed to be around $200 million for eight years, possibly with an opportunity for Pujols to obtain an ownership stake in the franchise after he retires.

When and if talks resume, it's unclear if St. Louis will increase its offer to Pujols' liking.

"We explored a number of different things in the negotiation," Cardinals chairman William DeWitt Jr. said at a news conference. "Without getting specific in what those were, there was discussion about other things that could be part of the contract. … You can be sure that we explored a number of different avenues."

Pujols, 31, will make $16 million in his contract's final year, with $4 million of the money deferred with no interest. A nine-time All-Star, he is the only player in history to hit 30 or more home runs each of his first 10 seasons, all with the Cardinals.

BIG DEAL FOR WEEKS: After a record-breaking season, the Brewers took the risk that Rickie Weeks' injury-plagued career is firmly in the past.

The second baseman and leadoff hitter agreed to a $38.5 million, four-year contract that contains a 2015 option which could increase the total value to $50 million.

Weeks, 28, hit .269 with a .366 on-base percentage and a .464 slugging percentage in 160 games last season. He had topped out at 129 in his previous five seasons and played fewer than 100 three times.

METS MESS: Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon insisted his family will maintain majority ownership of the team despite facing a $1 billion lawsuit from the trustee trying to recover funds for victims of convicted swindler Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme. "We're not selling controlling interest of the team," Wilpon said. "It's not on the table."

In other Mets news, shortstop Jose Reyes said he prefers to wait until after this season to talk about a new contract. Reyes can become a free agent after the World Series.

D'BACKS: First baseman Russell Branyan, 35, who played briefly for the Rays in 2006, agreed to a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training.

DODGERS: Right-hander Lance Cormier, 30, who spent the past two seasons with the Rays, signed a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training.

INDIANS: Infielder Orlando Cabrera passed his physical and signed a one-year contract. Cabrera, 36, will compete for the starting job at second base.

ORIOLES: Vladimir Guerrero, 36, took his physical, the final hurdle before he can sign a contract. The DH agreed to terms on a one-year, $8 million contract on Feb. 4.

RANGERS: Right-hander Omar Beltre, 29, has been diagnosed with a genetic narrowing of the spine and is scheduled for surgery Tuesday. Assistant general manager Thad Levine said Beltre has a condition called spinal stenosis. He'll need about six to eight weeks of rehab before resuming baseball activities.

RED SOX: Pitching prospect William Abreu, 19, was suspended 50 games after testing positive for an anabolic steroid.

ROYALS: Catcher Jason Kendall began a light throwing program as he starts his return from major shoulder surgery. Kendall, 36, said he intends to be behind the plate on opening day.

TWINS: Joe Nathan is moving closer to regaining his closer role, throwing outside off a mound for the first time since reconstructive right elbow surgery nearly a year ago. Nathan, 36, said he felt great after the session. … Former Rays outfielder Delmon Young avoided salary arbitration by agreeing to a one-year contract worth $5,375,000.

No deal for Pujols, Cards 02/16/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 16, 2011 9:13pm]

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