The Market For Albert Pujols

The Mayan calendar hints that the world will end in December 2012, but the "Albertageddon" may come this winter if Albert Pujols hits the free agent market.  There's already been a great deal of speculation over which of the big-market usual suspects might jump into the fray if the Cardinals don't sign Pujols to an extension, but given Pujols' unique stature in the game, a larger-than-expected number of suitors might emerge.

So, if you're already dreaming about the possibility of seeing Pujols in your favorite team's uniform on Opening Day 2012, let's break down every club's chances of making this dream a reality…

No Chance

  • The Padres, Pirates, Indians, Royals, Diamondbacks, Astros and Rays all don't have the finances to sign Pujols to the $270MM+ contract that he can command on the open market.  Also, aside from the Rays, none of these teams look ready to contend in 2012.
  • The Marlins can probably be slotted in with the previous group of teams, except for a slim chance that the team would want to make a huge splash as they move into their new stadium in 2012.  Signing Pujols would certainly sell a lot of tickets in Miami, but it would be a huge stretch to see Pujols in Marlin teal.
  • The Twins have spent a lot of money over the past year, but they can't afford both Joe Mauer and Pujols on the same roster.  Plus, Minnesota already has Justin Morneau at first.
  • The Rockies have Todd Helton at first base for two more seasons, but besides that, the team probably doesn't have the necessary payroll space after signing Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez to long-term extensions this winter.  
  • The Phillies have Ryan Howard locked up at first base through at least 2016.
  • Pujols has fewer question marks about his fielding and conditioning than Prince Fielder, but still, if the Brewers aren't willing to pay Fielder $200MM over eight years, it's hard to see them paying as much as $300MM for Pujols.
  • Between Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko, the White Sox have their 1B/DH spots covered through 2013.
  • It isn't Billy Beane's style to pursue top-shelf free agents, so the Athletics are out of the picture.
  • The Reds just extended Joey Votto's contract, so they're set at first base for at least the next three years.
  • As awe-inspiring as it would be to see Pujols and Miguel Cabrera hitting back-to-back, the Tigers aren't contenders for Prince Albert.  Signing Pujols would commit Victor Martinez to an everyday catcher spot, which he might not be able to handle either defensively or physically in the long-term.

The Longshots

  • There will be a lot of ink spilled about the prospects of the Mets or Dodgers signing Pujols, but with so much legal controversy surrounding both clubs' ownership situations, it's hard to see where either team could find the money to pay Pujols a historic contract.  If the Picard lawsuit or the McCourt case is settled by the fall, however, the Mets or Dodgers could hop into the top tier of contenders.
  • The Orioles have shown a willingness to spend money this winter and were deep in the bidding on Mark Teixeira two years ago, but Andy MacPhail recently said that paying a player an average of $30MM per season is too rich for the O's blood.
  • The Mariners could probably afford Pujols but would they want to?  And, perhaps more importantly, would Pujols sign with a rebuilding team like Seattle?
  • The Braves have first base committed to top prospect Freddie Freeman.  Even if Freeman struggles in 2011, Atlanta won't give up on him so quickly to chase Pujols.

Probably No Chance, But With Them, You Never Know…

  • The Yankees have Mark Teixeira signed through 2016, and they need to keep the DH spot clear for the likes of Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter in the coming years  It wouldn't shock me to see the Bombers at least put a feeler out to Pujols' camp, but they don't appear to have room for Pujols.  Plus, having both Pujols and A-Rod on the payroll is financially excessive even for the Yankees.
  • If the Red Sox let David Ortiz go after 2011, they have an open designated hitter spot for Pujols, or at least a time-share with Adrian Gonzalez between DH and first base.  It seems like a waste to have one of two strong defensive first baseman spending half their time at DH, but that's small potatoes compared to the idea of Pujols hitting at Fenway Park.  Still, even with a lot of money coming off the books for the Sox next year (Ortiz, J.D. Drew, Mike Cameron, Jonathan Papelbon), it's hard to see even Boston affording both Gonzalez and Pujols, not to mention their other big contracts.

Darkhorses

  • The Blue Jays.  Signing Pujols would instantly make the Jays not just relevant in the AL East, but contenders as well.  Rogers Communications is one of baseball's wealthiest ownership groups, so the money would be there if necessary, plus Toronto just freed up over $80MM in payroll room by dealing Vernon Wells to the Angels.  The drawbacks are, of course, that Pujols may not be keen to play on an artificial surface, and that everything Alex Anthopoulos has said about his management strategy implies that splurging on a big-ticket free agent like Pujols is unlikely.
  • The Giants.  The World Series champs look to have Aubrey Huff and rookie Brandon Belt in first base/corner outfield roles next season, so there's certainly a potential hole at first should Belt not live up to his scorching minor league numbers.  It's probably more likely that San Francisco chooses to focus its resources on locking up its core pitchers to multiyear deals, but as we've seen in the past, Brian Sabean is no stranger to huge free agent contracts.

Top Contenders

  • The Rangers.  Barring a big breakout campaign from Mitch Moreland, the Rangers have both a hole at first base and (theoretically) the money to afford Pujols.  One possible roadblock: Pujols' agent Dan Lozano also represents Michael Young, who doesn't exactly have glowing things to say about Texas right now.
  • The Angels.  Signing Pujols would quickly erase any lingering bad feelings Angels fans have over the club failing to sign Carl Crawford or Adrian Beltre this winter.  Kendry Morales would be moved to DH to accomodate Pujols, or could even be trade bait if he fails to rebound from his injury-shortened 2010 campaign.  Bobby Abreu could still be a factor given that his 2012 option will vest with just 433 plate appearances next season, so if the Halos start giving the durable Abreu a lot of days off next summer, you can bet they're gearing up to clear room for a run at Pujols.  
  • The Nationals.  The Jayson Werth signing has taught us that the Nats aren't afraid to outbid teams, even at the risk of regretting that signing years down the road.  Having Pujols at first base, Stephen Strasburg healthy, Bryce Harper possibly ready for the majors and the likes of Werth and Ryan Zimmerman already on board would make Washington the talk of the baseball world in 2012.  
  • The Cubs.  We've already heard that Chicago would be prepared to offer Pujols an Alex Rodriguez-esque contract.  The Cubs have Carlos Silva, Kosuke Fukudome and possibly Aramis Ramirez all coming off the books after next season, and Carlos Pena is only signed on a one-year deal.  It's also very possible that the Cubs don't mind a bloated payroll in order to sign Pujols and stick it to their arch-rivals in St. Louis.
  • The Cardinals.  Of course, let's not abandon the possibility that Pujols stays put.  The Cards will still have exclusive negotiating rights with their star slugger until five days after the end of the World Series.  After an entire season of feeling the pressure from the St. Louis fans and media, the Cards might be willing to budge and give Pujols the ten-year deal he's reportedly seeking.  One would think Pujols would at least test the market by that point but if St. Louis gives him the contract he wants, he could accept in order to remain a Cardinal icon for the rest of his career and beyond. 


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124 Comments on "The Market For Albert Pujols"


Ferrariman
4 years 6 months ago

feel sorry for whoever gives him 10 years.

4 years 6 months ago

If he wins them a couple world series championships, it will be hard to feel sorry for them, bloated contract or otherwise.

4 years 6 months ago

not gonna happen with the Cards paying him $30 million….Dewitt’s not gonna open his checkbook and the minor league system isnt good.

4 years 6 months ago

I’m not saying it’s guaranteed that the team who signs him will go all the way. But if a team gives him a 10 year contract and they win a couple championships, that’s worth dealing with however many years of overpaying him on the back end (in my opinion).

4 years 6 months ago

i just dont think its within the realm of reasonable expectations for the Cardinals to be a great team while paying pujols $30 million.

I can see it with the Nats…more young talent, rich, willing to spend owner. Cubs crazy rich owner, huge market, desperate to win. Rangers…rich as hell silent partners who are willing to throw money around like crazy to get the guy they want (Lee). Blue Jays rich owner, tons of young/milb talent, one pujols away from being right there with the red sox, yankees and rays.

wickedkevin
4 years 6 months ago

Which is essentially what Cashman said when he said he would not regret giving CC the option to opt out if he did so.

4 years 6 months ago

Doubt he would go to the Nats. that would make a 3-4-5 tandom of all right handed hitters. Cardinals, Angels, Rangers are my top 3. Come to sunny Southern California Pujols we’d love to have you.

4 years 6 months ago

I highly doubt his right-handedness would be what keeps the Nats from pursuing him. It’s not like he can’t hit righties (career .328/.419/.615 vs. RHP).

What I think will determine whether the Nats are favorites or dark horses is if they can prove they’re going to be very competitive very quickly (improved record from last year, Strasburg rehabbing on schedule, Harper close to the majors).

wickedkevin
4 years 6 months ago

I want the Nats to get him, but what happens to Laroche? He signed for two years.

4 years 6 months ago

send him off so they can get more catching help presumably. You can never have enough catching.

Pseudonymus Bosch
4 years 6 months ago

Trade him for a pitcher and/or prospects

Andy_B
4 years 6 months ago

You gotta put the cubs in there, and as a cards fan that sickens me. If the Angels or some other team signed Pujols, I’d just not watch baseball for a year or two. But if Pujols joined the cubs not only would I never watch baseball again, but I would change my phone number, and never speak to a single friend of mine who’s from chicago again.

4 years 6 months ago

Just thinking about how smug Len and Bob (Cubs commentators, worst in MLB) would be about the whole thing honestly makes me want to vomit. Seeing him in that loser shade of blue known as “Cubbie Blue”. Ugh, I will jump off the arch.

Angelsfan1066
4 years 6 months ago

i AGREE I WOULD LOVE TO SEE HIM COME TO THE ANGELS, AND I COULD SEE THEM DOING IT

theanswer75
4 years 6 months ago

rather have pujols for 10 years than arod.

just think of what he could do in texas and in the middle of that lineup.

andrus
young
pujols
hamilton
beltre
cruz
kinsler
catcher
CF

*drools*

4 years 6 months ago

And with no money left to support your pitching staff, you will have to learn to love 9-7 losses.

4 years 6 months ago

hahahahaha

4 years 6 months ago

Most Texas fans already do

Devern Hansack
4 years 6 months ago

I would argue that the Astros could afford him. As of 2009 they had a payroll of nearly $103 million.

4 years 6 months ago

Let’s say they could afford him.

Pujols would not be at all interested in playing for a non contender.

4 years 6 months ago

If Drayton McLane still owns the Astros if/when Pujols hits the market, there is no way they would even attempt to sign him. He’s committed to lowering expenses these days and selling the organization.

However, there is a good chance the team will have a new owner by then, and sometimes new owners look to make a big splash in free agency.

Backup_Slider
4 years 6 months ago

You hit the nail on the head. The Astros can’t be eliminated on the basis of financial considerations as of today because no one knows who will own the team come next November. That said, it’s logical to assume that they won’t be contending in 2012, so I’d say the author’s post is half-right.

jb226
4 years 6 months ago

That said, a franchise with Albert Pujols locked up for 8-10 years is likely more valuable than one without, and since Drayton wouldn’t be the one paying the salary if he’s selling all he would care about is the sell price bump he might get.

That’s essentially why the Cubs ran out and gave Soriano that massive contract so fast out of the gate. The Tribune company was looking to sell and wanted to ramp up the price by grabbing a top free agent and making a serious title run. Whether or not that was ultimately sound logic (from their perspective) I can’t say. But I wouldn’t immediately leap to the conclusion that trying to sell the team means they instantly decide not to offer a contract to a player like Albert Pujols.

All that said I doubt he would accept even if they did.

4 years 6 months ago

I was going to say the same thing. I didn’t understand why Houston was grouped into the “can’t afford”. Somehow, Houston was a dark horse to pay Cliff Lee 25m (which was reported here) but to pay Pujols 25-30m is too rich for their blood?

4 years 6 months ago

Newsworthy….of course. Valid post on MLBTR….no doubt. Regardless, this is going to get old, real quick.

BigDaddy67
4 years 6 months ago

As far as the Matinez being forced to catch if he were to come to Detroit…I only have one comment…Inge to second or short, Pujols at 3rd…Ordonez, Cabrera, Pujols and V-Mart…I think I could handle that and a 50% raise in ticket prices!!

4 years 6 months ago

I agree, that would be great! Hell we could even throw inge in left if our 2b/ss start to produce at a high level. I would pay more to see that show!

BigDaddy67
4 years 6 months ago

Very happily!!

grant77
4 years 6 months ago

Boston hasn’t signed Gonzalez and it’s no sure thing that they will. Looks like they are wary of signing him before the shoulder sees game action and he could always have a poor season.

4 years 6 months ago

The thing is. If they weren’t confident in him, they WOULD NOT have given up Kelly and Rizzo. They’ve given up too much for him to be a one year rental.

grant77
4 years 6 months ago

The general consensus is that it was a pretty weak package and that they only got it because of the connection with Hoyer. Besides that, confident or not, a poor season probably reduces the chance they resign him.

4 years 6 months ago

I guarantee you, they have a contract in place, and they are just waiting until the season starts to announce it

grant77
4 years 6 months ago

Why wait? I thought you said they were confident in his health.

4 years 6 months ago

why wait? because if they sign him once the season starts it would not go against this year pay roll. therefore they would be closer to the luxury tax mark.

grant77
4 years 6 months ago

I thought that too, but the date has already passed and no signing.

guest_54
4 years 6 months ago

“But, for the purposes of calculating the competitive balance tax (CBT) on the Sox’ 2011 payroll, Gonzalez’ contract would no longer be calculated at $6.2 million if he signs an extension before the start of the season.”

^^^^^^

Start of the regular season seems to be the date. So, that date has not passed with no signing.

touchmymonkey
4 years 6 months ago

I think that they already have a verbal agreement in place withthe basic parameters of a deal and will make it official when it season begins and it won’t change their luxury tax status. Ialso think that they might be willing to change that at noon today if Pujols is going to be available – claim they have reservations about Agons shoulder or whatever they think will spin best in the press. At the end of the season they offer Pujols huge contract with a small window to accept. They get him great.. if not they tack on a few extra $$ to make up for Agons hurt feelings ( provided he kills like he should at fenway). Definitly worth the risk although not exactly their initial gameplan. Perfect world for sox: agon has soso year is offered arb and sox have both for 1 year. That would suck for me as a cub fan who has been bragging at work about how we are going to get Pujols lol

guest_54
4 years 6 months ago

I agree. I think they already have an agreement that they are just sitting on until the time is right. I was just disagreeing with grant77’s statement that the date has already passed. If I understand correctly, it’s not until the regular season actually begins. At that point, the luxury tax would be avoided.

Lunchbox45
4 years 6 months ago

so you just generally don’t know what you’re talking about then?

0bsessions
4 years 6 months ago

“The general consensus is that it was a pretty weak package and that they only got it because of the connection with Hoyer.”

No it isn’t. Hell, two of the guys in that package were in Law’s top 100 prospects list for this year. The whole “general concensus” garbage is purely speculation by goons who refuse to believe the Red Sox could pull off a fair trade. Most writers believe that it was a respectable return for Gonzalez.

4 years 6 months ago

How many of those ex-Sox players are expected to be in the Padres starting lineup this year?

0bsessions
4 years 6 months ago

How many of those guys the Twins got for Santana are in an MLB lineup now, like three years later?

That’s what happens when a small market team trades a star, they trade for the future. None of those guys were expected to be in the lineup because the Padres are going into visible rebuild mode.

4 years 6 months ago

He isn’t signed yet due to the luxury tax. Beckett did the same thing with a delayed signing. Yes, the shoulder could possibly be the reason, but avoiding getting hammered in taxes…

Luv Free Curly Fries
4 years 6 months ago

The Giants could easily just move Brandon Belt to RF/LF…it’s not like the guy isn’t athletic or hasn’t been getting time there in the minors.

Mauerneau
4 years 6 months ago

Definitely no chance.. But oh how I would love a 2-3-4 of Mauer, Pujols, Morneau

4 years 6 months ago

Uh you say no chance for the Phillies? Ryan Howard has a limited no trade clause, so they could eat a chunk of it and with the way they have been spending lately I don’t buy it. They always claim to not have money and then have more money appear.

4 years 6 months ago

I think that you missed the point…

By that logic, every team with over 50 million in payroll has a chance.

Lets see…. The Orioles suddenly have a chance, as do the Brewers. Let’s not forget the Pirates, White Sox, or Indians!

Catztradamus
4 years 6 months ago

I don’t think anyone assumes the Phillies are a favorite to land him, but to call them “no chance” is absurd. They are in EXACTLY the same situation as the Yankees and Red Sox. Have a premier first baseman signed to a long term deal that they would have to trade, but definitely have the money to make it happen, and are one fo the few teams that can contend in the short term and are strong enough to give him the kind of deal he’s looking for.

That said, the chances of him ending up in philly are not good, but with them you can never say never.

4 years 6 months ago

Why do they need to eat a chunk? Yes, the annual pay is high at 25mm but he is a potential 50hr guy and in MVP talks every year. Again, not sure why they need to eat anything

4 years 6 months ago

These posts are insane. Hey, anybody’s team need a second baseman? Cause Albert played the position too! For three innings.

4 years 6 months ago

I’d do it if Pedroia can suddenly become a SS again. =P

(note- Don’t do it. Seriously. He’s a first basemen people. Use common sense)

jmcbosox
4 years 6 months ago

plus its albert freakin pujols, why would he agree to change positions?

oefvet
4 years 6 months ago

I hate to say it considering I’m a Crew fan, but I think that the Cubs will end up acquiring either Fielder or Pujols next year. Will be a sad, sad day when that happens.

Sixto_Lezcano
4 years 6 months ago

Why would that be sad? The minute Pujols puts on a Cubs jersey he will become horrible overnight and/or get injured. I can’t wait!

4 years 6 months ago

Fail.

DepletedOrange
4 years 6 months ago

Yankees sign Pujols for 345/10, and he rotates between DH, 1B, LF, and SP. He’s gotta be better than Burnett.

4 years 6 months ago

He’d be awful tired with pitching one day and playing left field another. He may be the machine but I don’t think he can possibly do all that. =P

Although I will agree, he is MUCH better than Burnett.

Sixto_Lezcano
4 years 6 months ago

Just play him full-time at 1B and move Teixeira to DH. People are way underestimating A-Rod by implying that he can’t stick at 3B for quite a while yet. He’s only four years older than Pujols and is the better athlete/player over his career.

Jeter sucks at SS but he always has. Do the Yankees really want late-30s Derek Jeter wasting their DH spot anyways?

BlueJaysFTW
4 years 6 months ago

LOL. Yeah only 4 years older. That would be a sensible thing to say if Pujols was 21 and A-Rod was 25. The difference between 31 and 35 is HUGE in terms of defensive capability.

4 years 6 months ago

Trading Teixeira makes more sense than moving him to DH, and A-Roid isn’t long for 3B. The Yankees probably already figure A-Roid or Jeter as the DH in 2012. Seriously, what team wouldn’t want Teixeira at 5yrs/$112.5M? You seem to forget the Yankees are going to need pitching.

4 years 6 months ago

Add limo driver for Cashman and barista in Yankee Stadium, and you got yourself a DEAL!

YanksFanSince78
4 years 6 months ago

If Pujols is looking for the most money I honestly think he will go to the Nationals. They have shown a willingness to spend and I think AP would be the PERFECT person to bring in alongside Harper to aid in his transition to the majors. AP would shoulder the offensive load and would take some of the media glare off of Harper. That would be great for the DC area. Right now they are around $60 mil on the books and I can easily see them pushing that upwards to around $100 mil for that sized market.

vonhayesdays
4 years 6 months ago

Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!! god i hate the former expos

NathanielS
4 years 6 months ago

I’m saying, if Arte Moreno is planning on owning his own or a piece of a regional sports cable network, this would be such a wise business decision for him, justifying his expense and opening up a huge revenue stream. Big Boy moves.

Backup_Slider
4 years 6 months ago

It would be a huge mistake for the Cardinals to take the risk that Pujols could sign elsewhere and all they would have to show for it is 2 measly draft picks (one of which could easily be a 2nd-round selection).

It’s way smarter to trade Pujols – he’d bring in return an enormous load of young talent, and that is precisely what the Cardinals organization needs given the limited depth of talent in their farm system.

4 years 6 months ago

Unlikely for it to be a second pick. Presumably AP would choose a team that was close to contending (aka not with a protected pick). I suppose he might sign on with a team like Washington where he sees a possibly bright future, but it is more likely that he would want to see tangible results already on the table.

4 years 6 months ago

I pretty much agree w/ this, except the Blue Jays have to be considered a top contender.
Their ownership is wealthy, and if Teixeira is worth $180 million, Pujols would certainly be worth $300 million to a team. They’ll have to pay Bautista, Hill, Escobar, and Morrow for 2012, but even then the team can’t have more than $55 mil on the books. Combine this w/ an ownership more than willing to spend on good players, and you’re looking at a team w/ the free resources to make a run.

On the same token, the Angels have to worry about having the resources to keep Weaver around for one, and are already over $75MM in 2012 without worrying about how much Weaver makes (which will likely be $9-$10MM more). I can’t see the Angels positioned better for Pujols than the Blue Jays.

Encarnacion's Parrot
4 years 6 months ago

I’m thinking Jays also, and to try and put my bias aside, them signing Bautista kind of seems unusual for Anthopoulos, if they do it. After hearing about how the minors needs to be upgraded, one would think “give him arbitration and hope to deal him at the deadline.” But signing him, and having Pujols as protection [in case 2010 stays an outlier] for a 3-4 combo would be nuts.

The Jays farm is great now, and will only get better after the 2011 draft. Their hole at 1B is just as gaping as Mark’s ‘top contenders’ and they have the resources to pull it off, and they have only $17mil committed spread through 7 players in 2012.

4 years 6 months ago

The Angels have 34 – 43 million coming off the books after this season. They can easily afford Albert Pujols. Imagine Pujols being in the same lineup with Hunter, Wells, Morales and Trout.

Sixto_Lezcano
4 years 6 months ago

Is that supposed to be an impressive offense or something? Just say “imagine Pujols + the Angels pitching,” that’s all you need.

4 years 6 months ago

Pujols is more valuable to STL than any other team.
To the Cardinals, he’ll be a one cap, first ballot HOF. And losing him means losing the respect of the fans. So I think they find the money any way they have to.

To the Cubs, he gives them the top tier hitter they need to be the face of the team.
Taking him away from the Cardinals is a huge swing in the NL Central, instantly making them a strong contender.

And then there’s what every Cardinal fan would hate:
If Pujols is the face of the Cubs team that finally wins the World Series, he’d go into The Hall as a Cub.

Catztradamus
4 years 6 months ago

If the Cubs offered him 10 years 30/million per, St.Lo0uis would match it and he’d stay in St.Louis. There is NO CHANCE that Pujols ends up a Cub.