Slugger Albert Pujols and the St. Louis Cardinals avoided arbitration in a big way, agreeing on a $100 million, seven-year contract yesterday, a source told the Associated Press.
Pujols was scheduled for a hearing tomorrow -- he was asking for a $10.5 million salary and the team offered $7 million. Instead, the sides settled, according to the source, who was familiar with the negotiations and spoke on condition of anonymity.
An option for an eighth year could make the contract worth $111 million. The deal was contingent on Pujols taking a physical.
At 24, Pujols, who earned $950,000 last season, led the major leagues in batting at .359 in 2003. The outfielder/first baseman hit 43 home runs with 124 RBIs and topped the majors with 51 doubles.
Maddux in fold
Greg Maddux signed his $24 million, three-year deal with the Cubs after passing a physical. He is returning to the team that gave him his start in the big leagues. Maddux will make $6 million this year and $9 million each of the next two seasons. But the Cubs can void the final year of the deal -- with no buyout -- if Maddux doesn't pitch 400 innings over this season and next . . . The Yankees offered ex-Red Sox starter John Burkett a minor league contract, but Burkett still is trying to decide whether to put off retirement after earlier rejecting offers from the Marlins, Indians, and Twins . . . Catcher A.J. Pierzynski beat the Giants in salary arbitration and will get $3.5 million this season instead of the team's offer of $2.25 million.