Weeks ago, Albert Pujols and the Cardinals mutually agreed on a deadline: if the two parties don't agree, by February 16th at 11 a.m. Central time, on a contract to keep Pujols in St. Louis, negotiations will be off until after the season, when the Cardinals will have to compete with other teams. We're now fewer than three hours from the deadline with no news of a compromise, but reports of the Cardinals considering an eight-year contract are continuing to surface. From Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
As of Tuesday night, however, the club continued to weigh whether to guarantee an eighth year or to raise the average annual value within a shorter structure.
Strauss also reports that Pujols' agent, Dan Lozano, and the Cardinals' front office have been talking all morning, but that they still haven't made much progress:
Despite a recent increase in pace of talks, today's deadline is still expected to pass without a contract extension in place.
We're now about two and a half hours from learning whether Pujols will be the subject of one of the most heated player sweepstakes in recent history. The Cardinals don't necessarily have to sign Pujols before the season, but if they're going to placate his demands, they had better do so before any other teams have a shot at him.
For more on Pujols and the Cardinals, check out SB Nation's Cardinals blog, Viva El Birdos.