As Spring Training rolls on, the focus remains on the Cardinals’ talks with Albert Pujols about a long term contract extension. We now have some answers and clarity on the Pujols negotiations. The deadline came and passed today with no new long term deal between Pujols and the Cardinals. Now, it would seem that Pujols will play out the last year of his current contract, and appear destined to hit free agency.
If Pujols does in fact become a free agent, the Chicago Cubs are expected to make a strong push towards signing the Cardinals superstar. In fact, Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated tweeted that one executive believes the Cubs are prepared to offer Pujols a 10 year, $275 million contract. Otherwise known as the Alex Rodriguez contract. Alluding to the contract that Rodriquez signed with the Texas Rangers. Ken Rosenthal reports that the last Cardinals offer before the deadline passed would have made Pujols the tenth highest paid athlete in the majors. In other words the offer was probably for 8 years, and worth around $152 million – $168 million. Which is a long way off from the 10 year, $300 million contract that Pujols seems to be asking for.
Lets just say for a moment that Pujols and the Cardinals fail to get a long term deal done by the time free agency hits. Would the Cubs really be prepared to offer Pujols a 10 year, $275 million contract?
From a financial standpoint, the Cubs are going to have the room in the payroll to offer that type of contract. With the contracts of Carlos Silva, Kosuke Fukudome and potentially Aramis Ramirez coming off the books, the Cubs would be creating an additional $40 to $52 million in cap space. Meaning the Cubs would be able to give Pujols the $27 million to $30 million that he is looking for yearly.
The Chicago Cubs are clearly going to be interested in Pujols if he hits the open market. But as I have stated before, I do not think signing Pujols to a 10 year deal would be the smartest move the Cubs could make next winter. Pujols will be 32 before next season, meaning a 10 year contract would take him to age 42. Wouldn’t it be a better move for the Cubs to sign Prince Fielder to a seven or eight year deal? Fielder would be 27 when he signs his next contract, meaning an 8 year deal would cover the years during which Fielder will be in his prime. As opposed to 10 year deal only covering the remaining three or four seasons that Pujols has left in his prime.
Regardless, the Albert Pujols rumors are not going to go away anytime soon. In fact, you could argue that the rumors are only now going to begin, as we now know that Pujols could be destined for free agency.