JUPITER, Fla. -- There's now, officially, an announced deadline in the Albert Pujols negotiations. Resolution, however, remains elusive.
Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said Monday that if no deal has been reached, talks between the team and agent Danny Lozano will come to an end on Wednesday at 11 a.m. CT/noon ET. The deadline was pushed back from Tuesday, partly out of respect for Stan Musial. "Stan the Man" will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom at the White House on Tuesday.
"One of the things we wanted to make sure is, tomorrow's a very big day for Stan Musial," Mozeliak said on Monday morning. "And it wouldn't make any sense to have a large distraction for that special day, given the amount of respect we have for that man. So it only makes sense to make sure we weren't trying to have a lot of things going on, given what's happening tomorrow in Washington."
Mozeliak indicated that it's not necessarily a requirement that a deal be signed by that time, but that terms would need to be agreed to. Merely having momentum would not be sufficient.
However, there's no indication that any momentum even exists at this point. Multiple reports Sunday night indicated that Pujols had rejected an offer from the Cardinals. Meanwhile, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Monday cited a baseball executive quoting Lozano saying that the Cardinals "have no chance" at signing Pujols before the deadline.
Mozeliak declined to speculate as to whether he felt there was a real chance that things could pick up before Wednesday.
"I don't want to sit here and lead people on or characterize something one way or the other," he said. "Our approach has been pretty consistent since Day 1, and that's really to allow this to be done in a confidential state. Given that we're only 48 hours away from the deadline, I'll remain that way."
In reference to the reports of a spurned offer, Mozeliak stood by his long-held position that he will not give play-by-play updates of the negotiation as it goes on.
"Obviously, there's been some news breaking on this or at least some headlines and things that are being written about," he said. "And in fairness and in respect to the process, we're just not going to comment on that. Obviously at some point we will discuss the whole process, but just given the timing of everything, we will just remain quiet at this time."
Mozeliak did say, though, that he has remained in contact with Lozano "on a regular basis" as the zero hour for a preseason deal approaches. And he expressed some irritation that the reported offer and rejection had become public.
"Where it leaves me typically in anything like this, when it's an anonymous source, it doesn't really help me," he told reporters. "I suspect there's a lot of people that have opinions on this, and all of you gentlemen have found ways to get that out of them. So congratulations on that."
Despite the bit of sarcasm, Mozeliak seemed relaxed in his 15-minute chat with reporters on the grounds of the Cardinals' complex in Jupiter. Asked if he was frustrated by how the process has gone, he said he was not.
"Not at all," he said. "It's a process and obviously it's an iconic player and I think when you experience going through this, you learn a lot. But frustration isn't coming to mind."
If nothing else, he's likely mindful of the fact that this week's deadline does not necessarily mean that Pujols will be playing elsewhere in 2012. Even if no deal is reached, the club would still have exclusive negotiating rights from the end of the season until five days after the World Series. And even if Pujols were to hit the market, the Cardinals would of course still be free to participate in the bidding.
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.