Albert Pujols and the St. Louis Cardinals failed to agree on a long-term deal before the start of spring training this week. Pujols gave the Cardinals brass a hard Wednesday deadline, and that came and went without a new agreement for perhaps the best 1st baseman of all time. Pujols said that he does not want any distractions for his team going-forward, so he and his camp will not entertain further discussions with the Cardinals during the course of the season. Those in the know speculate that Pujols wants a deal similar to the deal that Alex Rodriguez signed with the New York Yankees a few years ago – 10-years, $275 million. The Cardinals have all-but-said that they can’t meet that contract, so does it mean that Pujols will become a free agent at the end of the season?
I find it really hard to believe that Pujols will end up leaving St. Louis, but I guess anything is possible. At 31 years old, this is his final hoorah and his 1st time testing the free agent market, so it would not surprise me to see Pujols entertain offers in November. But if the Cardinals get somewhat close to the highest offer that Pujols receives, you would think that the guy decides to play it “safe” and finish his career with the Cardinals.
That being said, the Cubs better make an attempt to lure Pujols to Chicago despite the fact that they continue to try to shed payroll. With the Carlos Silva, Kosuke Fukudome and Aramis Ramirez contracts coming off the books after the season, the Ricketts family will have money to “play with” – about $38 million. They could easily allocate a good chunk of that to Pujols and still have some more money to sign another free agent or two. That all assumes that young stars like Starlin Castro, Tyler Colvin and Blake DeWitt continue to develop and mature during the course of the 2011 MLB season.
We’ll be following the whole Pujols story very closely this year and we’ll keep you posted as soon as anything breaks…