Ground Rule Hypothetical: Who Should Be the Highest-Paid MLB Player?

Josh LevittSenior Analyst IAugust 26, 2009

LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 17:  Albert Pujols #5 of the St. Louis Cardinals bats against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on August 17, 2009 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Scenario time: Let's assume for a second that after the 2009 season, for whatever reason, every player currently on a major league roster would be granted free agency with no strings attached (no options, arbitration, service time, etc.).

No matter what their contract status was after the 2009 season, all contracts have been abolished. This would create the most amazing spending spree in sports history, as every player would have the freedom to pick and choose where they want to go.

But here's where I'm looking for your input. Under this scenario, what player would become the highest paid player in the game?

Would it be Joe Mauer, who has established himself as the best hitting catcher in baseball?

Would it be Albert Pujols, who is one of the best hitters on the planet and almost a virtual lock every year for a .300-plus average, 30 HR, and 100-plus RBI?

Would it be Evan Longoria, who is on his way toward becoming the best third baseman in baseball even though he only reached the majors last season?

Would it be Tim Lincecum, who despite his diminutive stature, is widely considered to be the premier pitcher in the National League?

Would it be Hanley Ramirez, who has developed into the best hitter in baseball that nobody knows about (thanks, Florida)?

There are many other viable options here that I have not mentioned: Miguel Cabrera, Felix Hernandez, Alex Rodriguez, etc.

My pick: Albert Pujols.

Pujols is my pick simply because he has been this good for so long. His consistency is off the charts.

Even though I feel like Pujols has been around forever, he is only 29 years old, which means that he should have many great years ahead of him.

I picked Pujols over Joe Mauer because I worry about Mauer wearing down due to the grind of catching every day.

The risk of Mauer getting hurt or declining is much higher than it is with Pujols simply because of the position he plays.

Don't get me wrong, Mauer is the total package behind the plate and he can do just about everything offensively and defensively, but I'd rather invest over $140 million in the sure thing.

Who do you think would become the highest paid player? Feel free to throw in the contract that you think he would receive on the open market.

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