According to all the reports we've heard over the past few weeks, contract negotiations between Albert Pujols and the Cardinals have not been making any progress. So with that in mind, perhaps this report from Bob Nightengale shouldn't come as any surprise:
All-Star first baseman Albert Pujols has rejected a contract proposal from the St. Louis Cardinals, and unless a dramatic change is made, will announce Tuesday he's ceasing contracts talks for the duration of the season, a person close to Pujols told USA TODAY.
What's new is that this is the first report we've heard of any actual offer. Up until now, we'd heard speculation about terms, but we didn't know if the Cardinals or Pujols had put anything on the table. It seems the Cardinals have put an offer on the table, and Pujols has turned it down.
Which means the two sides are still far apart with just two days remaining until Pujols' deadline for talks. The source says that Pujols is holding out for a ten-year contract, while the Cardinals want to limit him to six or seven. A lot could change between now and the deadline as the heat gets turned up, but the gap may be too large to overcome. Indeed, where not even a month ago an agreement seemed inevitable, now the odds of an agreement have never looked longer.
If no agreement is reached before Spring Training, and if Pujols sticks to his word and doesn't think about his contract situation during the season, the Cardinals will have a brief window of exclusive opportunity to work something out after the year before Pujols enters the free agency market.
Update: according to Buster Olney, Pujols rejected the Cardinals' offer two weeks ago. We have no idea what kind of progress - if any - has been made since.