I know I should be shot for even thinking, yet alone suggesting, that the St. Louis Cardinals should trade Albert Pujols. Shoot me later, please. I have some explaining to do.
I am not implying, saying, inferring, or suggesting that the Cardinals trade Pujols now. Why should they? Pujols is a Cardinal for 2010, without a doubt.
What I am saying is that the Cardinals should consider trading Pujols after 2010 if he says he wants to test the open market. If Pujols is open to an extension, it needs to get done. When it gets done, throw this suggestion out the window.
If Pujols says that he wants to test the free agent market, the Cardinals should consider dealing Pujols. Why?
Think of the suitors.
If the Cardinals say "Pujols" and "trade" in the same sentence, even if they aren't talking about Pujols being traded, they get 15 calls.
Think about if they actually say, "We are open to a deal for Albert Pujols."
Can you say flood?
Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago White Sox, and plenty more will willingly lineup to take Pujols off the Cardinals hands, and give the appropriate package of talent.
Here is where it gets fun for the Cardinals, tricky for other teams.
Remember when I said that the Cardinals should only consider trading Pujols after 2010, and after he tells the team he wants to test the open market? That opinion will not change even if he is traded.
Know what that means?
The Cardinals land the best package of prospects and players ever, and have every chance in the world to sign Pujols after 2011.
Of course, they would have to pony up the market value dough for Pujols, and probably would not get a discount of any kind. The possibility, though, is intriguing.
Pujols would command a type of package that general managers can only dream of. Let me give you some examples: Mark Teixeira (traded to the Atlanta Braves), CC Sabathia, Erik Bedard, and Scott Kazmir.
Oh, did I mention that when I mention all of those names, I mean all of those deals as one? Yeah, it would take that, even for just one year. And that wouldn't be the asking price; that would be the assumed price. No team would go into the sweepstakes thinking they could part with a couple marginal prospects.
You want in, you bring all your Star Wars action figures to the sandbox, and you expect to leave with just the Death Star.
Teams will create a line longer than the ones made for the opening of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Mozeliak would be blown away by offers right away and try to hold out. Why?
Because he can.
No team will back out of a possible trade for Pujols, no matter the cost. The prospect of the public relations hit to that team would be catastrophic.
Think if the Red Sox created the best possible offer for Pujols and the Yankees made the second best. The only thing stopping the Yankees from landing Pujols was their reluctance to include one player. Hell would ensue in the Bronx.
People would be screaming and killing to find out why the hated Red Sox landed the prize instead of the Great Galactic Empire.
That is what the Cardinals can bank on. Egos and rivalries. Those mixed together in the race for the best would create amazing packages of players.
But, like I said: this only happens if the Cardinals do not sign Pujols to an extension, and he tells the team he wants to test the open market.
Honestly, if that happens, why not?