One day. The Cardinals now have all of one day to reach a contract extension agreement with Albert Pujols before they hit the deadline and negotiations cease. The major stumbling block appears to be the length of an extension, as Pujols is reportedly seeking ten years, while the Cardinals don't want to make such a commitment.
These are, then, understandably tough times for those affiliated with the team. Matt Holliday has offered to defer some of his salary if it makes signing Pujols easier. The front office obviously knows how much Pujols means, and how big a blow it would be to see him leave after the year. And manager Tony La Russa is frustrated, choosing to blame the MLBPA for setting Pujols' demands:
"I know what he's going through with the union, and to some extent, his representatives,'' said La Russa this morning at the Cardinals' camp. "His representatives are getting beat up by the union. 'Set the bar. Set the bar.'
"I just know those forces are in place. I don't ask them about it. It's not my place to ask. I don't know much he's going to listen to it or is listening to it. But those are powerful forces."
It's an argument that comes up whenever anybody's trying to negotiate a major deal, but Yahoo!'s Jeff Passan went ahead and spoke to the MLBPA director Michael Weiner anyway. Said Weiner:
"We have had no conversations with Albert or [agent] Dan Lozano."
The union doesn't appear to be involved in any way, here. They're watching, to be sure, and they're interested, but they're not trying to exert any influence. This is all about Albert vs. the Cardinals, and they're very quickly running out of time.