St. Louis Cardinals: Free Agent Albert Pujols Destined For Chicago Cubs?

BrendanContributor IFebruary 17, 2011

If Albert Pujols and the St. Louis Cardinals stay true to their word of holding off any negotiating until after the season, then MLB could have its own episode of "The Decision."

Pujols, 30, is a three time MVP winner and said to be seeking a contract that will make him the highest paid player in baseball history. If there is anyone who can make such a bold claim, it is "The Machine."

However, as right now, the Cardinals are not prepared to offer Pujols the years of money that he is looking for in his next deal.

If he were to hit the market, then Pujols could be considered the greatest free agent in the history of baseball. After all, he has had the fastest start to any career in the history of baseball and shows no signs of slowing down.

Any team with the necessary funds would line up for a shot to sign the future Hall of Famer.

However, part of the problem is that many teams with big payrolls already have long term commitments at first base: The Yankees have just recently signed Mark Teixeira to a long term contract; meanwhile, the Red Sox are on the verge of signing new addition Adrian Gonzalez to a massive deal.

This is a significant reason why Pujols, if he becomes a free agent, could find himself playing in Chicago.

The Cubs are in dire need of creating a buzz after several disappointing season. Few things would create a bigger buzz then signing their rival's all-time greatest player.

Landing Pujols would also send the Cubs versus Cardinals rivalry to new heights.

Pujols has terrorized the Cubs in his career, hitting more home runs against them then any other team in baseball. His 47 HR and 123 RBI in 574 at bats against the Cubs show his dominance when facing the division rival. Pujols has also finished in the top five of MVP voting in nine of his ten big league seasons.

This type of production could be the leading force behind the Cubs breaking their World Series curse.

On top of all of his offensive prowess, Pujols has also worked hard to become an excellent fielder. This past season, he was awarded with his second career Gold Glove award.

The ownership group has also shown in recent years that they are willing to spend money for a winning product on the field. In 2007, they signed Alfonso Soriano to an eight-year, $136 million contract.

The Cubs also have been shedding some money from their payroll in recent years. Last year, they decided to part ways with free agent in waiting Derek Lee. They signed Carlos Pena to replace Lee, but only to a one year contract. This upcoming season will be the end of a five year, $73 million contract for Aramis Ramirez.

Clearly, they seem capable at acquiring Pujols from a financial perspective.

More importantly, Pujols makes since if Chicago wants to build a World Series contender. He would immediately help progress some of the younger players in the organization. He also would make Chicago more attractive to other free agents.

If the Cardinals front office inexplicably lets Pujols hit free agency, then they may have to accept the fact that he could call Wrigley home in 2012.