JUPITER, Fla. -- It appears that inaction may have given way to a setback in the negotiations between the Cardinals and Albert Pujols. USA Today reported on Sunday evening that Pujols has rejected a contract offer from the club, and that "unless a dramatic change is made," on Tuesday he will end talks until after the season.
However, it was unclear from the report when an offer would have been made or turned down. And according to two other reports, Pujols turned down the offer two weeks ago. That would certainly leave time for the Cardinals to make an additional offer before time runs out.
Both the club and Pujols' camp have maintained a preference for silence regarding the negotiations since conversations began in December, and as recently as Saturday, general manager John Mozeliak had little to say on the topic. Neither Mozeliak nor Pujols' agent, Danny Lozano, could be reached for comment on Sunday evening.
The notion that Pujols will end talks on Tuesday, however, is not a new one -- and appears to have no direct connection with any offer that may or may not have been made or rejected.
Mozeliak said last month that Lozano had told him that negotiations would end when Pujols arrived at Spring Training. A recent report indicated that Pujols would show up in Jupiter on Wednesday, so it follows naturally. If an offer was made and it was not good enough, then something would, in fact, need to change significantly for negotiations not to end on Tuesday night or Wednesday morning.
Still, even if no deal is reached this week, it would not necessarily be the end between Pujols and the only Major League organization he has known. The club would still have exclusive negotiating rights from the end of the season until five days after the World Series. And even if he were to hit the market, it's still possible the Cards would have the highest bid.
That was the case last winter -- when Matt Holliday went to free agency and re-signed with St. Louis for seven years and $120 million.
Pujols is entering the final season of what will end up as an eight-year, $111-million deal. He will earn $16 million this season.
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Obviously, You're Not a Golfer and follow him on Twitter at @MatthewHLeach. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.