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Tue, 29 Nov 2011 09:32 AM EST

Although dialogues between team officials and agent Dan Lozano are in the initial stages, the Cubs appear poised to join the St. Louis Cardinals and Miami Marlins in an active pursuit of Pujols, a nine-time All-Star who hit the free-agent market in October.

The Pups ‘ overtures to Pujols come among speculation that they also have interest in former Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder. The conjecture was ratcheted up a gear last week when the team hired former Brewers coach Dale Sveum as its new chief. Baseball scores

Pujols and Fielder are the 2 largest names in a relatively thin free-agent market, and Lozano and Fielder’s agent, Scott Boras, will be front and center at the Dallas meetings.

Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein and CEO Jed Hoyer have been busy with the managerial hire and other front offices moves but are expected to start addressing the free-agent and trade markets in earnest in advance of the MLB winter meetings the week after next in Dallas. Basketball scores

Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts asserted Tues. Boras has prepared an extensive, eight-section binder on Fielder that proclaims him as “Historically Great Through Age 27,” and distributed it to interested teams. the decision on big-name free agents is Epstein’s.

“Like I’ve always related, there’s one individual answerable for making those calls, and one individual responsible for those results,” he claimed to hacks. “So if ( Epstein ) believes strongly that’s what’s in the best interests of the team, then he’s got my support.”

The Texas Rangers also have been mentioned as a potential landing site for Pujols or Fielder, although club president Nolan Ryan said recently the team is more likely to stick with Mitch Moreland initially base and upgrade in other areas. “Making a seven-or-eight year deal for Fielder or Pujols isn’t something our organisation is prepared to do. I very much expect Mitch Moreland to be our first baseman next year,” Ryan announced 3 weeks ago.

The Washington Nationals are allegedly a suitor for Fielder, and GM Mike Rizzo and Boras have a long history of productive negotiations. But Rizzo has made it clear that he wants to upgrade the team’s beginning revolution and center field spot, and he would find it a challenge to squish Fielder into the team’s budget in 2012 and beyond.

Pujols, who turns 32 in January, rebounded from a slow start and a midseason wrist injury to hit .299 with 37 homers and Ninety nine RBIs this season. He also tied a record shared by Chick Ruth and Reggie Jackson with 3 home runs in Game 3 of the World Series.

Cardinals boss Tony La Russa retired after the season. One baseball source asserted that while Pujols was “surprised” by the team’s decision to replace La Russa with Mike Matheny, who hasn’t managed at any level, Pujols likes and respects Matheny personally. The Matheny hiring isn’t predicted to play a big part in Pujols ‘ call to re-sign with the Cardinals or leave St. Louis. Louis managing director John Mozeliak met with Lozano during the latest GM meetings in Milwaukee and said, “Our goal is to try and discover a way to keep Albert Pujols, and that’s what we’ll target as we move forward.”

Epstein and Hoyer have a busy agenda as they try to revamp a Pups team that came 4th in the national League Central division with a 71-91 record last season.

St. 3rd baseman Aramis Ramirez is a free agent and won’t return to Chicago, and management is loaded with the big contracts of pitcher Carlos Zambrano and outfielder Alfonso Soriano. If the Cubs don’t sign Pujols or Fielder, they have the option of doing a 1 year handle incumbent first baseman Carlos Pena, who hit .225 with 28 home runs in 153 games last season. Pena also is a Boras client.

There’s also an ancillary benefit for Epstein and Hoyer in chasing Pujols : Even if the Cubs don’t sign him, they could help drive up the price for St. Louis. The Cardinals offered Pujols a nine-year deal in the spring, but sources expounded the suggestion fell a touch short of $200 million total.

Miami also has offered Pujols a nine-year deal, baseball sources have confirmed. Although reports of the Marlins ‘ suggested contract change, the team voiced its interest by bringing in Pujols for a ballpark tour earlier this month. Free agent shortstop Jose Reyes and pitchers Mark Buehrle and C.J. Wilson also have went round the Marlins ‘ new stadium and received contract offers from the club.

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