“The Machine” Looking To Become An ATM

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?”

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Tags: Albert Pujols Alex Rodriguez Carlos Pena Chicago Cubs New York Yankees St. Louis Cardinals

  • dan0mite

    Last I saw the Cards and Pujols were close to a deal. I think it was on MLBTR. It was something like 8yrs at $240 million. I highly doubt that he leaves the Cards. With that being said, if he did I don’t think I’d like to devote 10 yrs and $300 million to a 32 year old player. Having a 40 year old first baseman with two more years at $60 million sounds bad.

    • Jordan Campbell

      From what I have gathered, the Cards and Pujols are not close on any deal.

    • joehan

      I’m with you on the concern over the final years of a 10 year deal dan0mite. While Pujols and company have a valid argument regarding salary compared to A Rod, with the Yankees and Red Sox already out of the running with superstar first basemen of their own, I don’t know how much leverage they would have.

      Baseball-Reference.com also states that A Rod has a $30 million marketing bonus every year for the remainder of his contract as he approaches HR milestones 660 to 763. Going into the 2011 season he is exactly 150 HRs shy of tying Bonds, and he has 7 years (until the age of 41) to achieve these milestones as well as cashing in on these bonuses. It will be interesting to see if he seeks similar bonuses, because through 10 MLB seasons, he is actually ahead of A Rod’s pace through Rodriguez’s first 10 MLB seasons.

      If the Pujols does become a free agent next winter, I would prefer the Cubs go less years and offer more money per season. The other option would be to still go the 10 years if teams like the Cards or Angels are willing to go that far, but front loading the contract. This could help make it easier to trade away Pujols in the last couple years of his career (assuming the 10 and 5 no trade rights are waived) if his age and production makes him more suitable as a DH for an AL team.

  • Ashley

    If anything the Cubs throwing there name into the ring might drive the Cards to have to pay more thinking they have some other team that might want him.

    I am kinda torn on whether or not I want him I mean yes he is the most feared hitter in baseball and is a very good fielder but just dont know if I like the CUbs spending all that money on one player, I mean it has back fired in the past and Albert as showed signs of injuries and his body breaking down in past years.

    I would welcome Albert with open arms but any where other than the Central is fine with me too!

    • Jordan Campbell

      Yea $300 Million is a ridiculous amount for any team to pay for one player. In the end, I think he winds up a Cardinal still for about $280 million.

  • Cheryl

    I don’t think any player is worth $300 million for ten years. It takes more than one man to win a world series and if his salary was so lop-sided there would bound to be resentment.

    • Jordan Campbell

      Especially in today’s economy. But the Jayson Werth and Carl Crawford deals did increase the likelihood that Pujols gets above market value.

  • BZ

    Not only is $300 million ridiculous for any one player, any 10 year contract to any 32 year old (which he’ll be before next season) is insane. This is exactly why the Cubs are in their current predicament (overpaying for people past their prime… Soriano, Fukudome, even Zambrano by the time his contract is up. This is also why ticket prices are ridiculous and the Cubs had horrible attendance last year. Fifteen years ago bleacher were less than $20, now you can hardly afford to take a family of four.

    • joehan

      You have valid points BZ. But to be fair to Pujols, he is in a class above Soriano, Fuku, and Zambrano. The risk for decline in numbers and injury is still there, but the trade off for arguably the top player in the game during the first 5 years of the contract may be worth it.

      Adrian Gonzalez was the cornerstone 1B I had wanted to build the future Cubs team around, but we have missed that boat. As Jordan mentioned, the Cubs have plenty of young talent at the other positions that will help keep the overall payroll down.

  • RYAN

    The last time I watched a baseball team there were 9 players on the field. This goes for A-Rod too. With 30 mill. U can buy a lot of talent for more than just one position. Now that’s just for one year. Think if the cubs spent 10 mill let’s just say on a 2B men 15 mill on a 3B men and 5 mill on a bullpin guy next year, u better believe we will have a better record than the team Albert is on. There is NO I in T.E.A.M. BUT there is an I in N.I.N.E. the number of players it takes to play the damn game. The cubs can make a splash next year, but it better be on more than one man. I don’t care how good or great he is. I WANT TO WIN. AND ONE MAN WON WIN THE W.S

  • Luke Blaize

    I’m not a fan of 10 year deals, $30 million dollar deals, or signing players through age 40.

    But this is Pujols. This is, bar none, the best player of his generation. And what’s more, he’s clean.

    Yes, a 42 year old Pujols wouldn’t be as productive as a 34 year old Pujols… but he’d probably pay back his contract just in the revenue he generates as he attempts to take the home run crown away from the steroid tainted players.

    I’d go for a ten year deal if it includes an option after year eight. Maybe $35 mil for the first three years, $30 mil for the middle four, then $25 mil for the remainder.

    What will be interesting is to see is if the Cards trade Pujols if they can’t sign him by spring training. On the one hand they can’t, but on the other hand they’d almost have too. You can’t let him go with nothing but a draft pick in return… but you can’t trade the face of a franchise. And what do you ask in return? A major league corner infielder power hitting right handed bat, plus prospects?

    • Jordan Campbell

      Luke, you may have just asked the question of the entire season. Would the Cardinals trade Pujols if they felt that there was no chance at re-signing him? The return would have to be extremely high. We are talking may be 5-6 top prospects. Remember last winter, with the whispers of a Ryan Howard for Pujols swap? The Cardinals would have to look for a trade like that. I almost wonder if the Mets would give up Ike Davis in a trade, they would have to if they wanted him. But, realistically, I only see the Nationals, Orioles, Cubs, Mets, and Angels as the only legitimate suitors. Because the Red Sox, Yankees, White Sox, and Phillies are already settled on first basemen.

      But I must say, the deal you laid out does interest me a lot. Because in a way, it is still making sure that Pujols gets his money, but also protecting the team in the future.

      Here is a thought, if not Pujols, how about Fielder?
      He would be a less lucrative option.

      • Luke Blaize

        If Castro’s throws to first get a lot more consistent this year, I might be ok with Fielder. Let’s wait and see on that one.

        I actually think the Yankees and Red Sox would both consider getting into a Pujols derby, or at least the Yankees. How much is it worth to the Yankees to have the home run king wear a Yankee uniform? The extra first baseman becomes an outfielder or a DH in that scenario, unless he is sent to the Cardinals in the deal. Red Sox are less likely and I think the Phillies are out completely, but I’d not rule out the Yankees at all. And that, in turn, means the Mets will be right in it as well.

  • Luke Blaize

    Let’s assume the Cubs land Pujols as a free agent, no trade involved, for an average of $30mil a year for 8-10 years. What would their roster look like? Well… in 2014, I’d project it like this:

    1 – Castro (SS)
    2 – Jackson (CF)
    3 – Pujols (1B)
    4 – Colvin (RF)
    5 – Vitters (3B)
    6 – Soriano (LF)
    7 – Soto (C)
    8 – LeMahieu (2B)

    Szczur – OF
    Flaherty – IF
    Castillo – C
    Barney – IF
    Perez – OF
    Lake – IF

    McNutt (SP)
    Garza (SP)
    Cashner (SP)
    Simpson (SP)
    Wells (SP)

    Marmol (CL)
    Marshall (LHP)
    Carpenter (RHP)
    Russell (LHP)
    Samardzija (RHP)
    Maine (LHP)

    And that’s not a bad roster. Lake and Maine might be a bit of a stretch, but other than those two Barney or Castillo would be the worst player on the team.

    Of course this is fairly speculative, but my point is that the Cubs are in a fairly unique position in which they could over pay for Pujols and still fill every single other slot on the roster (except maybe left handed power off the bench) with an above average player. That bullpen would be very good, the starting five would stack up well against most teams, and at the very least the offense would be balanced.

    Again, there is a lot of speculation on that roster. I’m not saying that is a guaranteed World Series team. There is no such thing as a guaranteed World Series team. That is a team that I think could win the division and have a very good shot at a post season run.

    If you swap Pujols for Fielder, the team looks almost as good, but with that young of a team I would really want Pujol’s leadership over Fielders. I’d juggle the lineup with Fielder as well to try to keep it balanced, and probably would only bat him fourth.

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