The Pujols-Cardinals contract extension deadline has come and gone.
Leaving Pujols with unrestricted free-agency in his sights, subsequent to the fast approaching Major League season.
Pujols is 31-years-old and a 10-year contract would take him into his 40's. And the Cardinals do not want to be paying a 40-year-old, 30+ million dollars.
Pujols has reportedly rejected at least one contract offer from the St. Louis Cardinals and the two sides were never veritably close to agreeing on the number of years or dollars.
Cards Manager, Tony LaRussa, is very angry over the proceedings surrounding the negotiation. LaRussa says that the Major League Baseball Players Association tried to "beat up" Pujols (and his agent), so he will sign the biggest contract he can in attempts to raise the bar for future contracts.
LaRussa went on to say, "I think it diminishes the other factors that a player looks at... I've had a number of players over the years who took the money and they've regretted it later." LaRussa is making the argument that the MLBPA is in effect getting in the way of the players' true happiness.
Pujols' teammate and lineup protection, Matt Holliday, has even agreed to defer payments on his contract in order to free up room for the Cardinals to appease Pujols.
But at this point, it seems like more of a principled stand by both the Cardinals and Pujols, and not truly about the money or years.
If the Cardinals really can't muster up a few more years than they want to, then more's the pity for St. Louis and its fans. But the chance that that is indeed the case is slim to none.
The window of negotiation between Pujols and the Cards should re-open next offseason.
But if the Cardinals were unwilling to meet Pujols' demands this year, what is to say that they will meet the demands next year.
Whether or not Albert Pujols is worth the money in the future, doesn't matter. Because he is worth it now and there is no replacement for Pujols.
In fact, I would take a 40-year-old Pujols over most players in their primes.
Pujols is indisputably the best all-around hitter in the league (and possibly of all time). He is a good first basemen (obviously), a fan-favorite, un-juiced (as far as we know) and the face of the franchise and the league.
Without Albert Pujols, the Cardinals do not make the playoffs.
If the St. Louis Cardinals do not open up their wallets and throw everything they have at Pujols in the next offseason, they do not deserve him or his immense talent.
The St. Louis Cardinals must come to terms with Pujols' demands or they will lose out on one of the best hitters to ever play the game.
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