Albert Pujols Rumors: Power Ranking Each Team's Chances of Signing 'The Machine'
Albert Pujols' self-imposed deadline for an extension with the St. Louis Cardinals is tomorrow, and the two sides aren't anywhere close to a deal.
Whatever the Cardinals offered Pujols, he rejected it. The Cubs are reportedly planning to offer him $275 million if he hits the free agent market next winter. And Pujols' agent has told other teams that St. Louis had "no chance to sign him" to an extension
Of course, all these rumors beg the question: If Pujols ends up as a free agent after the 2011 season, where will be in 2012?
Here are my rankings of all 30 MLB teams' respective chances of signing Pujols next winter, along with my odds of him landing with each club.
No. 30: Oakland Athletics
The idea of a franchise famed for its frugality getting involved in a $300 million bidding war over Pujols would be ridiculous even if they didn't already have two promising young first basemen (Daric Barton and Chris Carter) in the organization.
Odds: 100,000 to 1
No. 29: Philadelphia Phillies
The Phillies already have $113 million committed to the 2012 payroll, in large part due to first baseman Ryan Howard, who is owed at least $125 million through 2016.
Getting an expensive first-sacker is not high on Philadelphia's to-do list.
Odds: 50,000 to 1
No. 28: Kansas City Royals
The Royals have one of the best farm systems in recent memory, and as a result could be contenders in the next few years. But with Billy Butler now signed through 2014 and elite prospect Eric Hosmer waiting in the wings, Kansas City has no need for another first baseman.
Odds: 10,000 to 1
No. 27: Cincinnati Reds
In addition to having reigning NL MVP Joey Votto under team control through 2013, the Reds have Yonder Alonso (.825 OPS in Triple-A in 2010) to man first base for the foreseeable future.
There's not much risk of Pujols jumping ship for the team that beat his Cardinals for the NL Central title last year.
Odds: 9,000 to 1
No. 26: Detroit Tigers
Miguel Cabrera will have a spot in the Tigers' lineup until 2016, so Pujols wouldn't fit here unless there's a vacancy at DH.
For that to happen, though, Detroit's 2014 lineup would feature a 35-year-old Victor Martinez as the everyday catcher. Sound good to you?
Odds: 8,000 to 1
No. 25: Florida Marlins
Owner Jeffrey Loria isn't known for his spendthrift ways, and even if he was, the Marlins have Logan Morrison penciled in as their first baseman of the future.
Don't look for Pujols to head to Miami in 2012—unless he's on vacation.
Odds: 7,000 to 1
No. 24: Colorado Rockies
Todd Helton is under contract through 2013, meaning he'd be a very expensive pinch-hitter if the Rockies brought Pujols to Denver.
But the bigger problem is that Colorado probably doesn't have the payroll room with Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez under contract for a combined 17 years and $238 million.
Odds: 6,000 to 1
No. 23: San Diego Padres
Between Anthony Rizzo and Kyle Blanks, the Padres should have first base under control for the foreseeable future.
But beyond that, if the Friars wanted to lock up an expensive slugger long-term, they wouldn't have traded Adrian Gonzalez.
Odds: 5,000 to 1
No. 22: Minnesota Twins
There isn't room on the Twins' depth chart for another first baseman right now, but there could be after 2011, when Jason Kubel, Michael Cuddyer and Jim Thome all hit free agency.
Still, Pujols might not be the wisest investment for a team that already has Justin Morneau and will need to start weaning Joe Mauer away from catcher to save his knees.
Odds: 4,000 to 1
No. 21: Pittsburgh Pirates
The Pirates have some great pitching prospects idling in the minors and a handful of promising position players already with the big-league team, but no real long-term answer at first base, so Pujols would be a good fit.
On the other hand, is there any way Pittsburgh would possibly pull something like this off?
Odds: 3,000 to 1
No. 20: Tampa Bay Rays
Great as their farm system is, the Rays don't have a real blue-chip first base prospect.
It's unlikely that Tampa Bay would have the money to sign Pujols, but boy, that would change the balance of power in the AL East.
Odds: 2,000 to 1
No. 19: Houston Astros
Pujols to Houston? It sounds ridiculous, and for the most part, it is.
But Brett Wallace's star is fading, and the Astros' interest in Carl Crawford this offseason could foreshadow a major move next winter.
Odds: 1,000 to 1
No. 18: Chicago White Sox
The White Sox always seem to be in the hunt for another bat, and I'm sure GM Kenny Williams would at least touch base with Pujols' camp were he to hit the open market.
But with Paul Konerko and Adam Dunn already on board and Dayan Viciedo starting to get his feet wet, this doesn't seem like a very good fit.
Odds: 750 to 1
No. 17: Seattle Mariners
A year ago, the Mariners' surprise offseason acquisitions of Cliff Lee, Chone Figgins and Milton Bradley put stars in fans' eyes.
They're still a sleeper threat to make a big splash, but after the miserable failure that was their 61-101 season, they've been much quieter this winter, and Seattle's hoping Justin Smoak will man first base for the next few years.
Odds: 600 to 1
No. 16: Arizona Diamondbacks
It's not impossible to see Pujols heading to Phoenix, but such a move would require keeping Brandon Allen in the outfield permanently and squeezing out intriguing prospect Bobby Borchering.
And, you know, outbidding every other team in baseball.
Odds: 500 to 1
No. 15: Cleveland Indians
Pujols isn't coming to Cleveland any time soon, but this makes more sense than you think. With Travis Hafner's $13 million salary coming off the books after 2012 and the payroll increase that should ensue when the Tribe starts to contend, the Indians would be wise to pursue Prince Albert, especially if Matt LaPorta continues to struggle.
Odds: 400 to 1
No. 14: Atlanta Braves
With young players like Jason Heyward and Tommy Hanson already reaching stardom and more top prospects on the way, this could be the start of a new Braves dynasty.
If Atlanta signed Pujols and flipped Freddie Freeman for an exciting outfielder—not likely, but possible—this team would be downright scary.
Odds: 200 to 1
No. 13: Washington Nationals
The Nationals have made no secret of their desire to improve their team this winter, overpaying for Jayson Werth and Adam LaRoche while also pursuing Cliff Lee, Zack Greinke and Grady Sizemore.
With LaRoche signed through 2012 and breakout candidate Mike Morse already struggling to find playing time, Washington isn't a great fit for Pujols, but you can bet they'd be in the mix.
Odds: 100 to 1
No. 12: San Francisco Giants
San Francisco has plenty of options at first base—Aubrey Huff is the incumbent, and he could be pushed by elite prospect Brandon Belt.
But with Huff and Aaron Rowand coming off the books in two years, the 2010 World Series Champions could certainly make a run at signing the best player in the game.
Odds: 75 to 1
No. 11: Milwaukee Brewers
The Brewers are cashing in all their chips in hopes of a playoff berth in 2011 after emptying their farm system to acquire Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum.
With Prince Fielder's free agency also looming, if the Brew Crew do well this year, they could simply swap one All-Star first baseman for another.
Odds: 50 to 1
No. 10: New York Mets
Like the Braves, the Mets have a good young first baseman (Ike Davis), but that hasn't stopped speculation about Pujols coming to Citi Field.
If the Amazin's can get their financial situation stabilized, they could sign The Machine and flip Davis.
Odds: 40 to 1
No. 9: Baltimore Orioles
Baltimore has no clear future first baseman, and fans aren't happy after 13 straight losing seasons. In order to keep up with the beasts of the AL East, the O's have to make a splash—a public pursuit of Pujols would do wonders for the franchise's PR, even if they don't actually sign him.
Odds: 30 to 1
No. 8: New York Yankees
Yes, Jesus Montero is New York's DH of the future, and Mark Teixeira will be manning first base until 2017.
But lack of need isn't reason enough to count the Yankees out of the running for a free agent. Montero could be traded or moved back to catcher to make room for Pujols.
Odds: 25 to 1
No. 7: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
After missing out on Carl Crawford and Adrian Beltre this winter, the Angels will have some ground to make up next year.
Money is apparently no object to the Halos (see "Wells, Vernon trade"), so what's to stop them from bringing in Prince Albert?
Odds: 20 to 1
No. 6: Texas Rangers
With newly stable ownership and a new TV deal, the Rangers didn't seem to be hindered by money this winter.
Mitch Moreland isn't a particularly inspiring first baseman of the future, and just think how Pujols' bat would play in Arlington.
Odds: 18 to 1
No. 5: Los Angeles Dodgers
James Loney is officially a bust at this point, and the Dodgers don't have any strong first base prospects in the system, so this could be a good fit.
Putting Pujols in Dodger blue would certainly shake up the NL West.
Odds: 15 to 1
No. 4: Boston Red Sox
I'm shocked that the Red Sox haven't been connected more to Pujols. Yes, they've supposedly got Adrian Gonzalez locked up long-term, but the DH spot could open up after this year when David Ortiz' contract expires.
With the payroll increases from Gonzalez and Crawford and Lars Anderson waiting for his chance to prove himself, Pujols might not be the best use of Boston's money, but the two sides match up surprisingly well.
Odds: 12 to 1
No. 3: Toronto Blue Jays
With Vernon Wells' albatross of a contract now off the books, Alex Anthopoulos & Co. are looking to the future with a much more flexible budget.
With no obvious in-house long-term solution at first base, there have been whisperings that the Blue Jays will make a serious run at Pujols next winter as they try to remain competitive in the AL East.
Odds: 9 to 1
No. 2: Chicago Cubs
Forget that the Cubs don't have any strong internal candidates to be their first baseman of the future. Never mind that Chicago could shave more than $50 million off the payroll after this year, or that Pujols' bat would play extremely well in Wrigley Field.
If the Cubs have him, it means their rivals and NL Central competitors, the Cardinals, don't.
Odds: 7 to 1
No. 1: St. Louis Cardinals
If St. Louis could afford to re-sign Pujols, you'd think they would get it done with an extension now instead of letting him hit the open market—and yet, with each passing minute, the chances of the Cardinals locking Prince Albert up seem to grow smaller.
Still, he's worth more to St. Louis than he is to anyone else, and while there's a very good chance that Pujols is out of the Cardinals' price range, they're still the best bet to have him in their lineup on Opening Day 2012.
Odds: 3 to 1
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