Albert Pujols has been a Cardinal for his entire remarkable ten year career. Amongst the best decades a baseball player has ever had. You can expect him to eventually sign an extension that will keep him in a Cardinal uniform for the remainder of his career. Just don’t expect it any time soon.
Pujols and his agent have set a deadline for noon on Wednesday to complete an extension, without which the slugger will play out the final year of his contract and become a free agent. He doesn’t want to be free; he wants to be a Cardinal. But that’s the only agreement both sides will be reaching for now.
Pujols is the greatest hitter of my time. I’m a relatively young guy; baseball didn’t grab hold of my consciousness until 1995 or so. Some all-time greats have dominated the baseball landscape prior to, and since, that time: Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez and Manny Ramirez amongst them. The latter two are among the greatest right-handed hitters of not just my generation, but any. The first guy, well, we spent enough time on him, and I won’t waste any now.
Pujols’ prowess at the plate stands above all others in the 21st century. His value is immeasurable to St. Louis; Albert’s agent will have less trouble quantifying it. His precedent is Alex Rodriguez and his 10 year $275 million deal, and Dan Lozano will seek a deal for Pujols that exceeds that.
This represents a problem for the Cardinals, whose pockets do not approach the depths of the Yankees, or Red Sox. New York rewarded Rodriguez with the audacious contract, and despite ridicule, they need not regret it. The Yankee brand swallows that cost whole, like a whale engulfs krill.
Pujols represents a brand of his own, however the Cardinals have a budget to mindful of, and such an enormous deal would greatly limit their flexibility. In todays world, $300 million dollars for a baseball player is egregious, but Pujols can’t be faulted for asking. Cardinals owner, Bill Dewitt Jr., calls him irreplaceable and he is just that. He has significantly outplayed the value of his current deal, and is fully justified in seeking restitution this time around.
Too often though, teams award absurd contracts while leaving others to suffer the repercussions when faced with their own player negotiations. Now, Dan Lozano is negotiating on behalf of baseball’s preeminent talent, and not just Pujols, but he too is set to land a monumental pay day. There is no reason for him to be open to a home town discount. The Cardinals may hope for a compromise, but it’s not Lozano’s responsibility to be amicable. Not with the Carl Crawford’s of the world landing $142 million.
Pujols will almost certainly enter free agency next winter, at which point Cardinal fans will be pushing the panic button – if they aren’t already. It’s going to be on owner, Bill Dewitt Jr, and Cardinals management, to get him to sign on the dotted line; and the presumption of loyalty will not get it done. His production speaks for itself. Ten seasons; ten years of at least 30/100, 3 MVP’s, one World Series title.
St. Louis had the pleasure of employing the best player in the league under a heist of a contract. They are indebted to him and have no choice but to pay up. My guess is something to the tune of 9 years and $250 million – at least.
A steep price no doubt. But the Bill is Due-Witt.
About the Author
Written by Brandon Marcus
I am 25 year old native New Yorker. I went to the University of Florida where I got my degree Sports Management. I am a die hard fan of the New York Giants, Knicks, Mets and the movie, Die Hard. I'll be covering the Portland Trail Blazers, but also will keep my eye on the league as a whole, and will drop in from time to time with some random thoughts.