The Phillies organization has internally discussed proposing a swap of Ryan Howard for Albert Pujols, sources tell Buster Olney of ESPN. Philadelphia GM Ruben Amaro shot the notion down, saying, "That's a lie. I don't know who you're talking to, but that's a lie." Olney stresses that it is not fully clear whether the Phillies have actually approached the Cardinals with the idea.
Both sluggers are 30 years-of-age and both are eligible for free agency following the 2011 season. Pujols is owed $16MM in each of the next two seasons. Howard, meanwhile, is set to make $19MM in 2010 and $20MM the following year. While Pujols comes at a slightly cheaper rate in the next couple of years he (in all likelihood) would cost more to retain than Howard.
Olney points out that Howard is a St. Louis native, meaning that the Cards may be able to sell their fans on such a deal. However, the Cardinals faithful have more or less adopted their three-time NL MVP, who is entering his 10th big league season with the club.
While owner Bill DeWitt wants to keep Pujols in red and white for life, an A-Rodesque $275MM deal might not be financially prudent for the organization. One has to wonder if the Cardinals will have to consider trading their megastar. If so, could a deal centered around Ryan Howard make sense?