Cubs: What if the team had signed Albert Pujols back in 2011?

(Photo by Brian D. Kersey/Getty Images)
(Photo by Brian D. Kersey/Getty Images) /
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Theo Epstein / Chicago Cubs
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Cubs: The timing was all wrong for the team to add Albert Pujols

Looking back now, it’s hard to imagine what this would have meant for the trajectory of the Cubs franchise. In October 2011, Theo Epstein came on to lead the team’s baseball operations department – quickly embarking on a top-to-bottom overhaul of almost every aspect of the organization.

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This meant years of losing as the team rebuilt through the draft each summer, focusing on a core of position players they believed were more projectable than arms, which come with a great deal of risk. This alone – the timing – likely kept Pujols from ever seriously considering the Cubs. At that point, he wanted to win and the North Siders were nowhere near being ready to do so.

From 2011 to 2014 – a span of four seasons – the Cubs averaged just 67.7 wins annually as Epstein wheeled and sealed with anything that had even a touch of value. Of course, in 2015, he brought in Joe Maddon to call the shots in the dugout – and everything changed from there.

Assuming the deal the Angels wound up giving Pujols was, at the time, a fair value (10 years, $240 million) – that means the Cubs would have paid the first baseman nearly $100 million before they were even ready to start competing again, let along vying for a championship. As prodigious a career as he’d had to that point, it would have left a franchise building up its financial resources in an awful spot.