When the speaker called for his final question, the subject of Albert Pujols' contract negotiations was posed by an audience member. It was the first time it had been mentioned during the entire hour.
DeWitt III initially stuck to the same position taken by his father, club chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. as well as Pujols himself.
"I can't give you inside scoop on that just because those are sensitive negotiations and we need to be careful not to be negotiating in the public," DeWitt III replied. "I think that is what is important. I will say that we want Albert. There is no question about it."
Depending on how literally one should deconstruct the words spoken, the following statement may have said a lot – perhaps more than the younger DeWitt intended. Or maybe it was just a poor choice of words.
"We're going to put an offer out there that will be the biggest contract in Cardinal history," DeWitt said. "I can say that. And I hope he takes it."
At face value, the above would certainly imply that biggest offer in team history has yet to be tendered. Does that mean no proposal has been made or could it have been a shorter-term deal for less money than Matt Holliday's current team best of $120 million?
In addition to it being the end of the meeting, I knew had I asked for clarification, I would not have gotten it. So we have to take the words as spoken and speculate as to their meaning.
Two days before, general manager John Mozeliak disclosed the Pujols camp had set a negotiating deadline of the start of spring training.
DeWitt III went on to suggest approaches that are likely under consideration that imply a very long term deal perhaps with deferred payments and/or personal services considerations beyond Pujols' playing days is going to be offered.
"I think it is a give and take," DeWitt observed. "You know there are creative structuring issues that can occur. There are other things that we could do that make sure he is a Cardinal for life as part of this.
"We're getting into that that stuff to try to make something happen. But I think at the end of the day he has expressed a desire to be here. I think we've been clear about our intention of keeping him.
"I hope it works out. We'll wait and see," DeWitt said in closing.
What appeared to be virtually the entire room nodded their heads in collective agreement.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at email@example.com. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.
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