Cards focused on present, not Pujols' future

Cards focused on present, not Pujols' future

JUPITER, Fla. -- Not too many Cardinals were all that worried Wednesday about whether Albert Pujols came to a new contract agreement before his self-imposed deadline. After all, plenty of them don't know whether they'll be playing in St. Louis in 2012, either.

The Redbirds have more than $40 million in payroll committed already for 2012, and that's before you count options on Adam Wainwright, Chris Carpenter and Yadier Molina, or arbitration-determined salaries for Colby Rasmus, Jaime Garcia, Ryan Theriot, Skip Schumaker and Kyle McClellan. If the Cardinals are in fact able to come to agreement with Pujols, it just increases the chances that some of those players will be wearing other uniforms in '12.

Wainwright appears the most likely of them to be around next season. His option has already vested, unless he finishes the year injured. Besides, it's for $9 million, an extremely reasonable figure for a pitcher of his ability level. As such, Wainwright had a little more vested in whether a deal got done with Pujols.

He acknowledged that when Pujols' deadline passed Wednesday, it was disappointing, but he mostly professed optimism.

"It doesn't make it over-over," Wainwright said. "He has 10 years with our club, and if he wants to go see what's out there, then you know what? That's what he's going to do. You never know, though. It might happen. It might not. It's out of our control. Nothing that we can do thinking about it or trying to talk him into it."

Perhaps the Cardinal most affected by Pujols' status is Carpenter. The Cards hold a hefty club option for the veteran righty next year -- $15 million with a $1 million buyout. A Pujols deal would significantly increase the chances of the team seeking some other solution besides exercising Carpenter's option.

But in typical fashion, Carpenter brushed off the questions about his future.

"I don't care," he said. "I want to stay here, but I'm concerned about right now staying healthy and being ready to go compete this spring and compete this year and help my team win ballgames. That's our goal. I can't control 2012 in 2011. There's nothing you can do. All that is is a bunch of wasted time. I don't think it matters. Everything will work out. If everybody just does their job and focuses on their thing, everything will work out."

Several players noted the fact that Pujols isn't gone just yet.

"They still have that window of negotiating [after the season ends]," said Schumaker. "We can't worry about Albert's contract because he's not going to worry about it apparently till the end of the year. He made a deadline for a reason, which is a good thing for not only him but the organization and the team, so it's not a distraction. The less distraction the better."

The one Cardinal who is going to be around the longest echoed that sentiment. Matt Holliday signed a seven-year deal before last season, and the hope was that he'd be batting behind Pujols for the entirety of that deal.

He's definitely not willing to grant that it won't happen.

"I'm still pretty optimistic that they're going to get something done," Holliday said. "I don't know anything anybody else doesn't know, but I think it's a little premature to go writing it off that he's not going to be here. I'm still pretty hopeful that it will get done and he'll end up being here."

Unlike some teammates, who said they hadn't been following at all, Holliday made no secret that he was curious how things would turn out.

"Of course I'm interested," he said. "I just recognize that he doesn't want to be distracted and he doesn't want to be a distraction for us. But I don't think the deadline is necessarily the end-all, be-all. It's one part of this whole deal. Whether or not they end up having discussion throughout the year or whether it's that first week after the season's over or after it's open season and he gets some offers ... I'm hopeful that he'll still be here."

Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Obviously, You're Not a Golfer, and follow him on Twitter @MatthewHLeach. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.