When the Chicago Cubs signed first baseman Carlos Pena, it gave the Cubs the flexibility to go after one of the premier free agent first basemen in 2012. While some may deem it premature to already be focusing on the 2012 free agency when the 2011 season has yet to begin, Albert Pujols forces teams to plan for the future.
The St. Louis Cardinals are hoping that Pujols is in their future for many years to come. Pujols is coming off of a 7 year, $100 million extension that he originally signed with the Cardinals. But, that is what adds to the intrigue of the negotiations between Pujols and the Cardinals. The Cardinals are entering the negotiations with the hope of Pujols being willing to accept a discount in order to remain in St. Louis. However, the belief coming from the representatives of Pujols is that they will not take a discount. The agents for Pujols feel like they already gave the Cardinals a discount on the original extension of 7 years for $100 million.
In fact, Pujols’ representatives are starting the negotiations with an asking price of 10 years for $300 million. That is right they want Pujols to become the first-and probably only- $300 million player in Major League Baseball history. There are multiple reasons for this asking price, the most influential reason is the fact that Alex Rodriguez got $270 million from the New York Yankees. Considering that Pujols is considered to be the best player in the game, they feel like he should get paid as the best player in the game. If the representatives of Pujols remain firm with their demands, the Cardinals would then be in an uphill battle in trying to retain their superstar. Spelling even more doom for the Cardinals, as the St Louis Dispatch reports, the Cubs are bound to enter the negotiations at some point for Pujols. Even if the Cubs feel they do not have a viable chance at landing Pujols, they at least would like to increase the chances of Pujols leaving the Cardinals after the 2011 season.
The question for the Cubs is not if Pujols would be a good addition (that answer is obvious), but should they pay Pujols the potential $300 million that he may be seeking? I may be in the minority when I say this, but to me the answer to that question is yes. With an estimated $40 million – $52 million coming off the books after the season, the Cubs could be in a position to make a big splash in the 2012 free agency.
Look at it like this, the Cubs may have a need at first base, second base, and third base next off-season. As Luke has pointed out on several occasions, the Cubs have a plethora of middle infield prospects that are destined to receive opportunities in the coming years. Meaning it is fairly reasonable to suggest that the Cubs could fill their second and third base needs from within the organization. Leaving first base as the only area of need when free agency begins next winter. Thus creating the opportunity for the Cubs to be one of the few teams that could actually afford the asking price of Albert Pujols.
This could all be for nothing if Pujols and the Cardinals reach an agreement on an extension before the season starts. But, every now and then you just have to ask “what if?”