Yes, I know what you're thinking. "What is he talking about? How is Albert Pujols 'too good'?"
Well, Albert Pujols is the best player in baseball, so let's get that out of the way. If he continues on his current path, he'll most likely retire as one of the best ever.
So now the entire baseball world has their eyes set on St. Louis, watching as Pujols inches closer and closer free agency for the first time in his career. The Cardinals picked up the $16 million option for 2011 on the seven-year, $100 million contract Pujols signed in 2004.
Most assume that the Cardinals would re—sign the face of their franchise, but Pujols has given them until the start of Spring Training to work out a deal. Should they fail to do so, Pujols will not negotiate during the regular season and will test free agency at its conclusion.
John Heyman of SI.com is reporting that both sides are remaining silent and that no deal is close. However, Pujols is reportedly using Alex Rodriguez's 10-year, $275 million contract with the New York Yankees as a benchmark.
Heyman also reports that the Cardinals may only be willing to offer Pujols a contract that would guarantee him a bit less than $200 million and that the Cardinals hope to keep the deal around seven years or less.
While most baseball insiders feel that Pujols and the Cardinals will get a deal done before the start of spring training, no one knows for sure because the talks have been so hush—hush.
It was thought that the Cardinals could get this deal done with a single offer: 10 years, $300 million. However, the Cardinals are reportedly willing to do one or the other, but not both; a 10-year deal or a shorter deal with an annual salary of $30 million.
So, if Pujols is going to use A-Rod's contract as a starting point, or at least a reference, and the Cardinals aren't willing to get to those types of numbers, where is Pujols going to end up?
That's question which presents the idea that Pujols is too good. If the Cardinals are not able to give Pujols the type of deal he feels he deserves (and let's be honest: Pujols is worth far more than A-Rod, and not just to the Cardinals), he's not going to find much more money anywhere else.
The two richest teams in baseball, the Yankees and Red Sox, both have first base covered. The Yankees have Mark Teixeira at first base making $20 million per season, and the Red Sox just traded for Adrian Gonzalez and by all accounts will sign him to a similar deal after the season starts.
The White Sox could try to trade Carlos Quentin and move Adam Dunn to the outfield, creating space for Pujols at first base. The New York Mets will have a lot of money to spend after this season, but are they willing to invest $25-30 million into a single player, even a guy like Pujols?
How much is Pujols worth?
Will Pujols, who is an excellent fielder, relegate himself to DH for the extra money? Assuming of course there is a team willing to pay their DH that sort of cash.
One baseball agent was quoted as saying that any contract for Pujols "better start with a two" (as in the number 2).
The number of teams who can afford Pujols AND have space for him are almost non-existent. Those that can afford him but don't have the space would have to make room in ways similar to what the New York Knicks did in the face of LeBron James' free agency (and we all know how that worked out).
In the end, Pujols will probably have to take less money than he could get if there was a need for him in the bigger markets. We all know what Pujols is worth. If he wants $30 million annually, he's certainly deserving of that.
He probably isn't going to get it in St. Louis, but he could somewhere else.