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Report: La Russa received offer before season

ST. LOUIS -- Tony La Russa has a contract offer for next season, but is likely to wait until after the season before deciding if he'll return to manage the Cardinals, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

"The only reason Tony doesn't have a contract for next year is because he hasn't signed it," general manager Walt Jocketty told the newspaper.

According to the report, it wasn't publicly known before Saturday that La Russa had been offered a contract. La Russa is currently in the second year of a two-year contract.

Jocketty said the offer was made during spring training, but didn't reveal details of that offer. The Post-Dispatch said it's likely to be another two-year deal with a slight raise over his current salary of just under $2 million per season.

The report said La Russa apparently won't decide to return to the team unless everyone feels the same way about him at the end of this season as they did during spring training. He has come under some criticism with the Cardinals playing around .500 for most of the season.

Jocketty said he doesn't want the contract issue to become a distraction, while La Russa declined a request to talk about it.

"It's still there when he wants it," Jocketty told the Post-Dispatch. "He wanted to wait until the end of the season."

La Russa, 56, was offered a two-year extension during spring training in 1999, but waited until the final week of the season before officially accepting it.

He's in his sixth season as manager of the Cardinals and 23rd overall as a big-league skipper.