The Chicago Cubs met with Albert Pujols’ agent last night (not about Rodrigo Lopez – about which more soon), and, according to the St. Louis Post Dispatch, the Cubs made the 31-year-old first baseman an offer.

The offer, confirmed this morning through a source, is called a “qualifying bid,” which suggests only that it was more than a fake-out offer designed to rile up the Cardinals. The terms of the offer are not disclosed.

There were rumors yesterday that the Cubs would try to land Pujols on a short-term, high annual dollar contract (example: five years, $150 million), and it’s possible that’s the kind of offer they made.

Jon Heyman just reported that the Cubs prefer Prince Fielder to Albert Pujols, but his rationale was that the Cubs were unwilling to offer nine or ten years to a 31-year-old player. If the Cubs are limiting their offer to Pujols to a shorter term, it’s possible Pujols is the preference.

Or neither of them are the preference. Isn’t this a great time of year?

For my part, if the question is Pujols at five years and $150 million or Fielder at five years and $125 million, I’m probably choking down my Cardinal hate and going with Pujols.

UPDATED THOUGHT: I should add, given that the report is coming from St. Louis, I’d hazard a guess that the source is someone close to Pujols’ agent Dan Lozano, or Lozano, himself. Might he have an incentive to exaggerate in this situation? Yes.

  • nonesuch

    yeah, Albert at 5 is preferred but I’d very happy with Prince at 5 too. Anything beyond 5 years for either would not be welcome.

    • ferrets_bueller

      ^this. If it can’t be done for 5 or less, don’t do it at all.

  • Katie

    Someone pass me the Maalox.

  • CubFan Paul

    Choke on it! I’d take Fielder over the 33yr old Pujols…

  • Incredibad

    OH MY……My day just got off to a great start! I’m on board with Pujols at 5-6 years!

    • JasonB

      Sure – the problem with this though is that someone is going to offer him a longer deal with a greater total value.  If that’s the offer, this is little more than posturing on Thoyer’s part to let the Cardinals know that we’re ready for a fight.

  • Sam

    I still think that they are just trying to get the Cards to up their bid. If the Theo-cracy make any big signings I believe it will be Fielder.

  • Stinky Pete

    I think you would actually be embracing your cardinal hate by going with Albert.

    • Brett

      Nah – if I embraced the hate, I’d never be able to accept Pujols as a Cub. Because he’s a Cardinal.

  • Andy

    Cardinal hatred fuels my excitement of Pujols to the Cubs. How passionate would that rivalry be if Pujols was playing 1B for the Cubs?

    5 years $150 million of Pujols > 7 years of Fielder

  • John

    Reports are Miami made a 10 year offer…they can have him for 10 years. Go get Fielder, Epstein!

  • Fishin Phil

    If they can get him to do 5 years, I am suddenly a Pujols fan!

    • Hawkeye

      Agreed.  I think that if we come in with an offer that would make him the highest annually paid player of all time, his ego would have to ponder that, even for just a few minutes.

  • PKJ

    I’ll take Albert at that price. That’s actually decent value for 3-4 peak years and a year or two on the decline.

    • Sam

      I feel like Fielder will be more productive 5 years from now (at the age of 32) than Pujols will be 5 years from now (at the age of 36). The last time we gave a big contract to a 31 yr old FA his name was Alfonso Soriano… and look how well that turned out. I know Pujols is much much better than Soriano, but his numbers are in decline… Pujols may not have much more in the tank, whereas Fielder is just hitting his peak. I’ll take a peaking Prince Fielder over a declining Albert Pujols any day of the week.

      • Robert

        Actually Fan graphs has already said prince Fielder has hit his peak a few years ago. I even believe Brett brought that up a few days ago.

        • Brett

          The FanGraphs article speculated that Fielder hit his peak a few years ago.

          • MichiganGoat

            Isnt that report based on his weight and comparing Prince to his father and Mo Vaughn?

            • Brett

              Yes. Big dudes. That’s pretty much all it is.

      • Jim

        Pujols is WAY better than Soriano, in fact his numbers, even if they are declining are better than we can ever hope for Soriano to put up. Plus Pujols has far more plate discipline than Soriano which is not going to decline like power or bat speed.

        Comparing Pujols possible deal, especially for 5 or 6 years, to Soriano is just ridiculous. Why are so many people against getting a difference making bat like Pujols? Plus his defense is far better than Fielder’s which will be important with Castro’s development.

  • njriv

    That is a really smart move from the Theo Trio. By cutting down the years and giving them that much money, they don’t have to worry having another Soriano on their hands towards the end of their contract for either of these guys. I prefer Fielder, he would follow Headley (if the Theo Trio can pull it off) perfectly batting 3rd & 4th in the line up, and plus I love the big lefty bat, but then again Pujols is the best player in the game so you can’t really go wrong.

  • DRock

    This truly is the Most Wonderful Time of the Year! Hope Theo gives us all a Merry Christmas by signing either Pujols or Fielder to a short term deal and trading Soriano and Zambrano!

    • Dougy D

      I sure hope so; at least the trading of Z and Sorri.

  • Cubbies4Life

    Oooohh, I’m giggling like a school girl! I’d be happy with Fielder or Pujols, although the “poo-holes” jokes would have to be completely eradicated from my “Tardinals” repertoire. I’ve never followed the winter meetings before! This is SO exciting! Thanks, Brett, for hooking me up with all the interesting bullets and comments!

  • Smitty

    Someone, please help me to remember the last ex-Cardinal that came to the Cubs and was good for us? I don’t think there have been very many, which scares me about going after Pujols.

    • Richd

      What on earth does that have to do with anything? First of all, the Cubs and Cards make very few deals to behind with. But secondly, what does a deal 20 years ago have to do with the Cubs signing Pujols today? SMH…

    • CubFan Paul

      jim edmund ..Grrrrrr

  • Kyle

    Yay, we’re making non-serious offers to major free agents.

    I know it’s a long process, but come on guys, do your business or get out of the stall.

    Pujols is not taking a short-term deal.

  • Cheryl

    Window dressing? Others will top the short-term offer if that was what was made. Meanwhile concentrate on pitching and Headley plus the Japanese and the Cubans.

  • Brett

    If the average annual value is truly the hold-up between Cardinals and Pujols, the Cubs could really be putting the screws to the Cards by offering Pujols a short-term deal with a huge annual value.

    • Fishin Phil

      Screwing Cardinals is fun!

    • TWC

      Where have I read this before…?  Oh!  Now would be a good time to follow Bleacher Nation on Twitter!

      (this way, you don’t have to do it Ace!)

      • Brett

        Too late. :)

    • nonesuch

      yep, 30% chance AP accepts short-term/higher dollar offer from Cubs, but if he wants long term deal he can go for Marlins’ 10yr or Cards’ 8yr tying up their payroll and roster for years. Either way, it’s a win-win for Cubs.

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  • JB88

    How are you using the term “qualifying bid”? Is the suggestion that Pujols’ agent is treating this somewhat as an auction; i.e., you need to demonstrate the requisite funds/interest before final bidding will occur, or are you using this term in some other way? Basically, I don’t understand how a “qualifying bid” is different from an “offer.”

    • Brett

      I’m not using it any way – that’s what the report says. I think it means only that Pujols’ agent considers it high enough to be deemed a legitimate offer.

      • JB88

        Got it. The current attorney in me (to distinguish from your oft used “former attorney in me”) scratched my head when I read that 😉

        • Brett

          Ha. Very understandable. My guess is it was written – or said to a writer – by a non-lawyer, or someone equally uninterested in precision.

    • Kyle

      A “qualifying bid” is an offer that’s big enough that the agent returns your calls and keeps you informed, but not big enough to be seriously considered as something the player will take.

  • EQ76

    How come there are virtually zero “Prince Albert” jokes floating around this off season?

    • Brett

      I’ve resisted the urge like a kid told he can do anything but push that one big red button on the table.

    • Stinky Pete

      I say we get ’em both and put ’em in the can!!

  • hardtop

    loved theo on intentional talk “we want to win the right way”  basically said he wasnt going to spend gobs of money until they have a steady stream of talent coming up through system.  i’ve waited this long, i can wait a little longer to win it the righjt way.  i certainly dont need to over spend on some old guy who waxes his eybrows.  by the time  the rest of the team is up to par to make a serious run at a championship, pooholes will be in adult diapers.  pass.

    • Kyle

      He didn’t say anything about not spending money until the talent starts coming in.

      It amazes me how often people read what they believe into the very, very generic platitudes that Epstein gives the media.

      • scottie

        lots of people misinterpret what Theo says.. keeping with the lawyer theme here… theo IS a lawyer.. he chooses his words extremely carefully.. as brett as alluded to many times…

      • hardtop

        youre right, he called it “resources”

        it was pretty clear what his intentions were.  i might have read a little into it, but not much.

  • Matt

    This is nothing short of brilliant, Cubs either get Pujols on a high dollar short term deal (negating the worry about the last 3-4 years of a 8+ year deal) or drive up his price to whomever eventually signs him.

    I think he will remain with the cards, but if they have to pay him more than the initial offer – it’s good news for the Cubs.

    • JB88

      Where things get remarkably interesting is if Florida ends up signing Pujols and if the Cubs drive up the market on Pujols, does that end up costing the Cubs interest in Zambrano from Florida? It is an interesting quandry and it really has to do with how motivated both St. Louis and Florida are in signing Pujols.

      • Fearbobafett

        I would think that if they did land Pujols their interest in Z would increase.   Reason being, that they would then turn around and ask the cubs to pay for more of the contract in exchange for pieces now blocked.   It could end up being a win-win for us. Then again if FL doesn’t nab him and the Cards step up and match the offer it is another win for us, just down the roard vs. today.

        • JB88

          Money is a finite resource, even if Loria has gone temporarily insane and is spending it like he has a printing press in his basement. What he is willing to pay for Zambrano might decrease depending on how much he needs to pay to land Pujols.

        • Max

          Bobafett might be on to something. If the fish land Pujols, Isn’t it possible that Zambrano, a prospect, and cash could be exchanged for a blocked Sanchez?

          • JB88

            Sure, it could be, but the Fins might also be willing to currently pay more of Z’s salary and/or offer up a better prospect if they think they are going to land Pujols for a lesser amount. If they have to pay extra for him, then they might have less resources to pay for Zambrano, causing the amount the Cubs have to pay and the prospect they have to send to also go up.

            That said, if the Marlins are in fact gauging how much it will take to land Zambrano, I think that would be a good sign.