Albert Pujols would exercise his 10-and-5 rights to veto any trade proposal, sources tell ESPN's Buster Olney, which leaves the Cardinals with two options: Sign him in the next three weeks, or hope to prevail when he enters free agency after the season.
The first baseman has said he won't be distracted by negotiating an extension once he reports for the season, which makes February 19 the deadline. If the Cardinals were to decide they wouldn't be able to afford Pujols, they could have softened the blow with a big haul they'd get by trading him to someone who wanted an impact addition and/or a leg up on courting him next winter. But if Pujols won't talk trade, the Cardinals will get nothing if they lose him (other than the two draft picks they'd receive for losing a Type A free agent).
Looks like it's all or nothing in the Gateway City.
-- David Andriesen