The Post-Dispatch reported this morning that talks between Eckstein and the Cardinals have ceased for now.
I'm not surprised. Eck's celebrity factor is sky high right now, he'll be entering his age 33 season when the new deal starts, and he'll probably want at least three years. Scrappy players don't age that well. Has this been empirically tested? I don't know, but he has a small frame for a pro player and his arm has always been weak. The most valuable attribute he brings is a decent OBP, but as has been stated on this blog and others, because he produces few steals and XBHs, he's actually a pretty poor leadoff guy.
On the other hand, the 2007 FA shortstop classs doesn't offer much. Carlos Guillen's 4yr/$48m deal was strongly ownership-friendly (in my opinion), but I still think Eck will want 3yrs/$21m at a minimum.
A) Free agents John McDonald, Cesar Izturis, Neifi Perez, or in-house alternative Aaron Miles.
B) Picking over the roster of a loser team like the Nationals (Felipe Lopez) or Orioles (Tejada).
C) Brendan Ryan or Tyler Greene
Best case scenario: Eckstein gives us a monster discount (something like 3yrs/$15m), or Ryan has a great year and we go in that direction.
Worst case: We pay full price or more for Eck