September 24, 2009

The Cardinals will attempt this winter to extend superstar Albert Pujols' contract, which expires after the 2011 season, Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt said in a phone interview with

"I think it would be appropriate after the season to talk to Albert," DeWitt said. "We want to be sure we do everything we can to make Albert a long-term, lifetime Cardinal."

The Cardinals also intend to try to keep star left fielder Matt Holliday.

"That's the goal, to lock up both of them," DeWitt said.

Some wonder whether the Cardinals will be able to pay what it takes to keep both star players. While the Yankees have a $30 million player (Alex Rodriguez), two $20 million players (Mark Teixeira and CC Sabathia) and a fourth who isn't far below the $20 million mark (Derek Jeter), no other team has spent so much on so few.

Pujols, who is to make $16 million in 2010 and has a club option for $16 million in '11, is expected to seek to meet or beat A-Rod's yearly salary of $30.5 million, while Holliday is expected to aim for a contract in the range of Teixeira's $180 million, eight-year deal. The Cardinals have been good at getting their star players to forego more money elsewhere, and while their monetary intentions regarding these stars aren't known, it is generally believed that both would have to leave St. Louis to receive top dollar.

Holliday, who is hitting .356 with 13 home runs and 50 RBIs since coming to St. Louis, is on the cusp of free agency, but DeWitt isn't conceding he's a goner. Asked if he feels he has a chance to compete with the big-market teams that may have an interest (those could include the Mets, Red Sox, Yankees, Dodgers and Braves), DeWitt, said, "I do. Our goal is to keep Matt Holliday."

The Cardinals consider Pujols -- who's having one of his best seasons with 47 home runs, 129 RBIs and a .330 batting average -- to have two years left on his contract, though technically it's one guaranteed year followed by the option year. It's unusual for a team to begin contract negotiations two years before the deal expires, but Pujols is an unusual talent.

Plus, it would behoove the Cardinals to get a gauge where they stand with him while talking to Holliday.

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