Over at Getting Blanked, Mr. Parkes got to writing an article that was eerily similar to one I had been thinking about writing for a couple weeks. It involved the best player in baseball and his impending contract situation.
Albert Pujols is entering the final year of a 7yr/$100-million deal that he signed prior to the 2005 season with St. Louis. The Cardinals are now faced with the tough task of resigning him to an extension which could very well be the most lucrative in Major League history.
If he does not sign an extension before the end of the season, Pujols will undoubtedly become the most anticipated free agent to hit the market since Alex Rodriguez in the fall of 2000.
Parkes does a great job proving the opposite point I had. I was going to say how the Cardinals might have an advantage in negotiations because the three biggest spenders in baseball, the Yankees, Red Sox and Phillies, are set at first base for many seasons to come with Mark Teixeira, Adrian Gonzalez and Ryan Howard respectively.
It should be qualified that Gonzalez has not yet signed an extension with Boston and as of now is still set to become a free agent at the end of this season, but it is well understood that the Red Sox and Gonzalez will sign an extension soon.
Since there are very few teams who can afford the contract Pujols would command, the Cardinals might have some leverage.
But Parkes makes a great point:
“As good as Teixeira and Gonzalez are, Pujols is much better. And the Yankees and Red Sox go into every offseason with the sole purpose of getting better.
Assuming that the Yankees or Red Sox aren’t interested also overlooks the fact that New York will be using 39 year old Jorge Posada as their DH this coming season, while the Boston Red Sox go with the rapidly aging beyond his 35 years, David Ortiz.
You’re kidding yourself if you think that the two Evil Empires won’t be involved in bidding for his services if Pujols gets to free agency.”
Now I’m very glad I didn’t write my piece, because I agree. And who’s to say a team like Philadelphia doesn’t consider trading someone Ryan Howard, who given his defensive woes (-12.6 UZR) is likely better suited to be a DH, to the Yankees or Red Sox; making room for the surprise Pujols signing?
That last scenario certainly isn’t likely, or even seemingly possible, but it isn’t impossible.
Speaking of nearly impossible scenarios, a conversation came up in the comment section of Parkes’ piece. In said conversation, some commenters were suggesting the Blue Jays should be a big player in the potential Pujols sweepstakes.
Now, I understand that the likelihood of Pujols even becoming a free agent is 50/50 at best, but because we’re all bored and looking for something to talk about, let’s consider it for a moment.
Is there any chance at all that Pujols and the Jays are a match?
The Jays do have a hole at first base with the band-aid solution of placing Adam Lind there and possibly platoooning him with defensively horrid third baseman Edwin Encarnacion in 2011.
There are also very few up-and-coming options with the best hope probably being David Cooper who has yet to show he’ll be a solid major-leaguer. K.C. Hobson is at least a couple years away and is still a huge question mark to most scouts and analysts.
Rogers Communications is also one of the wealthier ownership groups in baseball and assumedly has enough money to cover a potentially record-breaking contract, so why not?
Why wouldn’t the Jays be considered a player in the Pujols lottery, providing he hits free agency at all?
Well, I am of the opinion that there is a 0.00000000000000000000001% chance that Pujols ever signs in Toronto.
Albert Pujols is the best player in baseball right now; it isn’t even up for debate. I won’t go into his credentials here, but just look at his FanGraphs page and his Baseball-Reference page. In fact, with his current trajectory, there’s a good chance Pujols ends up being considered one of the two or three best players ever to play the game. He’s in a league with Babe Ruth, Willie Mays and Barry Bonds.
Alex Rodriguez opted out of his previous record-breaking contract after the 2007 season and signed a brand new record-breaking contract with the Yankees for 10 years and an astronomical $275-million. That’s $27.5-million per season on average.
At the time, Rodriguez was still considered one of the best players in baseball, but by that time, at 32, he had mostly slipped behind Pujols in that category.
Pujols is younger than A-Rod was and is better than he was at the time; couple that with the fact that he has made no qualms about getting as much money as he can and you have the recipe for a deal that could reach 10 years and $280-$300-million.
I’m not even sure the Cardinals would be willing to/could go that high; hence my consternation toward the attitude that a Pujols extension with St. Louis is an inevitability
As a Jays’ fan, I would of course love to see Pujols playing first base in a white jersey at the Rogers Center, but I have absolutely no grand pipe dreams of this happening.
Yes, Rogers Communications is one of the wealthiest ownership groups in the Majors, but when in their (albeit short) history of owning the Blue Jays have they shown a willingness to drop anywhere near the amount of money that Pujols will command on the open market on their baseball asset?
If the Jays were already a sure-fire contender and if they were selling out every game and if revenue was flying in like it was in the early 90’s then maybe I could see a deal for Pujols coming to fruition, but they’re not, they’re not and it’s not.
A deal for Pujols also seems to fly in the face of what Jays’ GM Alex Anthopoulos has been preaching since he became the head of Baseball Operations. He has made it clear that they will build within, take advantage of controllable years for cheaper and younger players, and use Rogers’ seeming willingness to drop some cash to resign core players when the time comes.
Signing any player to an expensive long-term deal from outside the organization doesn’t seem to fit the organization’s plan, let alone the most expensive player.
All of this is not even mentioning the likelihood that Pujols would choose to come to Toronto over places like New York, Boston, St. Louis or even Los Angeles; and don’t give me that “he might have grown up a Jays’ fan like Manny” bullhonkey because I don’t see Manny signing on any dotted line as of yet and that kind of stuff honestly means very little to professional athletes.
It. Isn’t. Going. To. Happen.