Cardinals, Angels wage battle for Pujols

Tim Brown
Yahoo! Sports

DALLAS – The Albert Pujols(notes) sweepstakes continue to evolve, and just when it seemed as if the St. Louis Cardinals were assured of re-signing the slugger, the Los Angeles Angels made a serious offer Wednesday morning.

Earlier in the day it became clear Pujols will not be part of the Miami Marlins’ renovation. Three teams, including the Cardinals and Angels, remain in negotiations for him. After a round of denials, the Angels have indeed emerged as a legitimate contender, as Fox Sports first reported.

It appears that after consecutive seasons finishing out of the playoffs, the Angels and owner Arte Moreno have made an effort to solve their lingering offensive woes. A contract the size of Pujols’ would mean a departure from Moreno’s previous position on free agent spending. Their offer is likely for 10 years – as is the Cardinals' offer – and Pujols might consider playing the American League with a designated hitter a plus in the latter years of the deal.

After losing out in recent seasons on the likes of Mark Teixeira, Carl Crawford and Adrian Beltre, Moreno answered criticism by saying the Angels were not to be compared with the New York Yankees or Boston Red Sox.

A Pujols contract likely would be the third-largest ever for a player, however, behind only the two signed by Alex Rodriguez – for $275 million with the Yankees and $252 million with the Texas Rangers.

The late entry by the Angels could push Pujols’ decision into later in the week. A third – thus far unidentified – team also has made an competitive offer for Pujols.

[ Related: Marlins strike again, land lefty Buehrle ]

Until Wednesday, the Cardinals’ main competition for their iconic first baseman was the Marlins. After weeks of negotiations had Pujols considering a 10-year contract worth in excess of $200 million from the Marlins, that coinciding with the Marlins spending $191 million on shortstop Jose Reyes(notes), starting pitcher Mark Buehrle(notes) and closer Heath Bell(notes), the two sides lost traction Wednesday afternoon.

Pujols’ agent – Dan Lozano – is believed to have told the Marlins that Pujols was no longer interested. Other reports had the Marlins withdrawing their offer.

A source close to those negotiations said the Marlins increased their offer to Buehrle – he agreed to a four-year, $58-million contract Wednesday – after learning of Pujols’ decision.

Miami is expected to make a run at Prince Fielder(notes), another slugging first baseman.

Either way, Pujols will not be taking his particular talents to South Beach. The Cardinals for several hours seemed to have the inside track, until the Angels – and a more aggressive Moreno – entered the negotiations for the 31-year-old slugger. The Chicago Cubs had been in contact with Lozano, but industry speculation was they were simply hoping to drive up the price for their NL Central rivals.

The Cardinals’ offer is believed to be for nine or 10 years and at least $200 million. The Angels are believed to be in that ballpark.

Other popular stories on Yahoo! Sports:
Wojnarowski: Chris Paul trade talks intensify
Networks in tug-of-war over Tebow | Bill Cosby a fan
From NBA to Dodgers: Ten money losers of '11

What to Read Next