The Chicago Cubs may have traded for third baseman Ian Stewart on Thursday, but that was far from the team’s biggest move of the day. The Cubs biggest move of the day was the fact that they did nothing. We’ve heard all week that president of baseball operations Theo Epstein has had discussions with Dan Lozano, the agent who represents Albert Pujols. Those discussion eventually resulted in Epstein making a contract offer to Pujols. While the Miami Marlins and St Louis Cardinals offered deals that were for 10 years and 220+ million, the belief is that the Cubs offered a short term deal with higher annual salary,
On Wednesday it seemed like Pujols was headed to Miami to join shortstop Jose Reyes and closer Heath Bell, but as day turned into night, the perception was that Pujols would re-sign with the Cardinals. At the same time, two mystery teams emerged with offers for Pujols. One being the Los Angeles Angels, and the other team remained a mystery. However it is now known that the Cardinals’ offer finished behind the Angels, Marlins, and the mystery team. Recent reports have suggested that the mystery team was the Cubs.
So between the Marlins, Angels, the Mystery team (Cubs?), and the Cardinals; what was the outcome of Pujols’ decision? Lets try the elimination process. Considering some Cardinals’ fans are giving their Albert Pujols’ jerseys the same treatment that Cleveland Cavalier fans gave their LeBron James’ jerseys it is safe to say that Pujols is not returning to St. Louis. The Miami Marlins may be the overall winners of the Winter Meetings but they did not win the Pujols sweepstakes. Hell has not frozen over meaning Pujols is not a member of the Cubs’ organization. Meaning that it was the Angels who made Pujols $260 million richer. The Angels and Pujols agreed to a 10 year, $260 million contract on Thursday morning.
Pujols may be the best player in baseball right now, but there is no way any Angels apologist could justify that contact. At 31, Pujols’ contract with the Angels is going to take him into his early 40s. While Pujols did hit .299/.366/.541/.906 with 37 home runs and 99 RBIs for the World Series winning Cardinals this season, the first baseman struggled with injuries this season and his ’11 numbers were not the same “video game” statistics we’ve come to expect from the veteran first baseman. Pujols may live up to the contract for the first two or three seasons, but the time will come when Pujols is an aging first baseman and the Angels are locked in until he is 41. For the Angels’ sake, lets hope they win at least one World Series title before they reach that point.
As big as this deal is for the Angels, the Pujols’ deal is equally as important to the Cubs. Reason being that Cardinals have taken a step backward and with Prince Fielder also looking likely to leave the National League Central, unless he signs with the Cubs, the top of the National League Central division is far more closer to the Cubs than the distance between the three teams at the beginning of the off-season. Not to mention that Epstein and Hoyer–and the Marlins—should all be thanked for forcing Pujols not only out of the National League Central, but out of the National League as a whole. This is a strategy that Epstein utilized with the Red Sox, and it is already paying dividends with the Cubs.
Many fans would love the opportunity to watch Pujols on a consistent basis, but in this case, Cubs nation is glad that they will be seeing significantly less Albert Pujols at bats in the seasons going forward. Best of luck in Cali Mr. Pujols.