What would it take to pry Albert Pujols away from the St. Louis Cardinals?
Cardinals fans, put away your pitchforks and disband the angry mob. I am not in any way suggesting that Pujols could, would, or should be traded.
Such a deal would be monumentally stupid for St. Louis. In addition to being the team's best player since Stan Musial, Pujols is a fan favorite and a hometown hero.
But, what if the circumstances suddenly shifted? What if Pujols went on a Milton Bradley-esque rant about his hatred for the city of St. Louis or announced that he wasn't planning to finish his career with the Cardinals?
GM John Mozeliak would have no choice but to entertain offers for one of the greatest hitters in baseball history.
It's an extremely unlikely scenario (breathe easy, Redbirds faithful), but it's interesting to think about—at least, for those of us who live outside Missouri.
Here's a look at the 10 teams most likely to be suitors were Prince Albert to be placed on the trading block, and the prized players and prospects they would probably have to give up.
Why they're a good fit: The Red Sox are a big-market team, and they're in the market for a first baseman. They won't have any trouble scoring runs in 2010, but the loss of Jason Bay means Boston has no true bopper to anchor its potent lineup.
The front office is losing its patience with David Ortiz, and GM Theo Epstein is known to have been seeking a slugger.
Who they'd give up: Given Boston's fantastic organizational depth, Mozeliak would definitely be able to command a proven hitter, a future slugger, and a promising pitcher—maybe more.
Possible trade: Mike Lowell, Lars Anderson, Michael Bowden, and Daniel Bard for Pujols
Why they're a good fit: The Yankees don't really need another slugger, but when a team has Javier Vazquez as a No. 4 starter and uses Robinson Cano in the bottom third of the batting order, one has to imagine that they'd be willing to splurge for Pujols, even if it would be unnecessary.
Who they'd give up: Not since the mid-'90s has New York boasted a strong farm system, so GM Brian Cashman would have to fork over a lot of already-developed talent to acquire Prince Albert.
Possible trade: Phil Hughes, Robinson Cano, and Nick Swisher for Pujols
Why they're a good fit: It's amazing how many holes the Mets can have when they spend around $150M a season. A good first baseman is just one of their many needs.
Who they'd give up: Unless the Mets were to trade one of their established stars, GM Omar Minaya wouldn't have much choice but to offer their best youngsters.
Possible trade: Mike Pelfrey, Fernando Martinez, Ike Davis, and Josh Thole for Pujols
Why they're a good fit: Despite boasting arguably the best pitching in baseball, the Giants missed the playoffs last year because of the offensive ineptitude demonstrated by every player not named Pablo Sandoval.
Who they'd give up: The Giants' minor league teams had the best collective record in baseball in 2009—GM Brian Sabean would be able to make an intriguing offer.
Possible trade: Madison Bumgarner, John Bowker, and Buster Posey for Pujols
Why they're a good fit: With the additions of Chone Figgins, Milton Bradley, and Cliff Lee, the Mariners are the favorites to win the AL West in 2010. The one thing they lack is a reliable power hitter.
Who they'd give up: Seattle's farm system took a hit from GM Jack Zduriencik's trigger-happy trade mentality this winter, but they still have plenty of prospects of interest.
Possible trade: Dustin Ackley, Michael Saunders, and Maikel Cleto for Pujols
Why they're a good fit: Paul Konerko isn't getting any younger. GM Kenny Williams is known to be pursuing Adrian Gonzalez.
Who they'd give up: It's not a question of whether the White Sox have enough young talent to share; it's a question of whether the White Sox are willing to share it.
Possible trade: Gordon Beckham, John Danks, and Clevelan Santeliz for Pujols
Why they're a good fit: To be honest, they really aren't, but that hasn't stopped Dayton Moore before.
Who they'd give up: You can kiss Billy Butler goodbye.
Possible trade: Butler, David DeJesus, Tim Melville, and Mike Montgomery for Pujols
Why they're a good fit: The Rangers' lineup is very good, but if they want to compete in the AL West, they'll have to be great.
Who they'd give up:Texas is overflowing with pitching prospects. Surely the Cardinals would love to take some off their hands.
Possible trade: Justin Smoak, Neftali Feliz, and Max Ramirez for Pujols
Why they're a good fit: Never count Billy Beane out. Ever.
Who they'd give up: You know all those great pitchers who broke out last year? Hope you're not too attached to them...
Possible trade: Andrew Bailey, Daric Barton, Trevor Cahill, and Adrian Cardenas for Pujols
Why they're a good fit: At this point, James Loney's developing power seems like a lost cause.
Who they'd give up: The Dodgers would probably be willing to part with more MLB-proven talent than any of their competitors.
Possible trade: Manny Ramirez, Clayton Kershaw, and James Loney for Pujols and Ryan Ludwick