In case you have been in a cave the past few months, here is a brief summary for you. Albert Pujols will be a free agent after this season. Talks during the off-season had Pujols seeking a 10 year, $300 million deal. The Cardinals were unwilling to go that high, and thus will wait till the winter to try and re-sign the superstar. The Chicago Cubs are one of the few rumored front-runners for Pujols when he hits the market. Now, let’s come back to today, May 10, 2011.
The St Louis Cardinals are currently playing their first series of the season in Chicago against the Cubs. If the Cardinals are in town, that also means Pujols is in town as well. With Pujols in town, it is no surprise that the rumors involving Pujols and the Cubs this winter would once again re-ignite.
Bruce Levine, of ESPN Chicago, rekindled the Pujols rumor mill when he said that Pujols could bring buzz back to Wrigley Field for the Cubs. It is no secret that the Cubs–along with the rest of Major League Baseball–have had attendance issues early on in the season. While this was expected for all of baseball, it may be more evident with the Cubs considering they are a big market team. A sub-500 start is not going to make fans who are in a “show me first” mentality show up to games. Assuming the Cubs stay on their current trend, attendance may also be on the same woeful trend. With that in mind, Levine states that with at least $40 million–potentially $60 million available–coming off the books, the Cubs have to add a big-name over the winter to create buzz around the team. Enter Albert Pujols.
In essence the Cubs are almost in a similar position as they were after the 2006 season. Because while the team has the look of .500 club this season, many feel–including myself–that they could jump back into contention in 2012. With prospects Brett Jackson, Josh Vitters, and Chris Carpenter on the verge of being major league ready, the Cubs would be able to maintain their “homegrown” mentality. But lets be honest, unless you are an intelligent baseball fan, fans are still going to want some blockbuster move from their team during the off-season. With the Cubs having so much money available to spend this winter, they almost can’t afford to come away empty from one of the big name first basemen on the market.
But just as the Pujols rumors will likely stick around for the entire season, I’m still going to say that he would not be the best option for the Cubs. Prince Fielder is the free agent the Cubs should go after this winter. Besides the fact that he is younger and would in a sense be a cheaper option when compared to Pujols, he also has the potential to hit at least 40 home runs a season. The common complaint people have on Fielder is that his health would be a concern, though I can not say so myself, many insiders around the league say he is much more athletic than people give him a credit for.
Fielder would give the Cubs a younger more affordable option while at the same time bringing the buzz back to Wrigley Field.