20 Dark Horse Landing Spots for Albert Pujols

Perry SchwartzCorrespondent IIIFebruary 17, 2011

20 Dark Horse Landing Spots for Albert Pujols

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    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    Thirty-one-year-old Albert Pujols has already racked up 10 seasons of hitting over .310 with at least 30 home runs and 100 RBI, and has never finished outside the top nine in MVP voting.

    A free agent after this season, the St. Louis Cardinals are desperately trying to keep the slugger, but they are reluctant to pay anywhere near the $300 million over 10 years Pujols is reportedly asking for. 

    St. Louis may be one of the best teams this season, but faces a lot of uncertainty afterward. There is no bigger star in the game of baseball today than Albert Pujols, and if he becomes a free agent after the season, a plethora of teams are going to do their best to acquire him.

    Here are 20 dark horse landing spots for the three-time MVP, Albert Pujols.

20. Kansas City Royals

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    Albert Pujols actually played college ball at Maple Woods Community College in Kansas City.

    However, the Royals, who finished in last place in 2009 have very little chance of competing any time soon even if they were to acquire Pujols.

    As a franchise, Kansas City has not been to the postseason since 1985 and have just one winning season in the last 18 years, so the possibility of Pujols becoming a Royal is very far fetched.

19. Chicago White Sox

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    The White Sox are only on this list because they play in a big market and have many players who will be on the tail-end of their prime next year.

    Signing Pujols would make the the team from South Side, Chicago an elite team in 2012.

18. Minnesota Twins

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    A franchise that has won six division titles in nine seasons, Minnesota is an underrated franchise that is optimistic about its future.

    The Twins are already one of the better teams in baseball, and one trying to take the next step of going deep in the playoffs—so signing Pujols could be the icing on the cake. 

    The Twins have a deep pitching rotation to go along with a decent lineup, and the humble Pujols would fit in great in Minnesota.

17. Atlanta Braves

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    The Atlanta Braves, hoping to get back to the postseason for the first time since 2005, have many young, talented players on their roster. They could really use some power in the middle of the lineup to go along with their very good starting pitching. 

    Atlanta probably won't want to pay Pujols hundreds of millions of dollars, but you never know from a franchise that is trying to get its fans to be as excited as they were in the 90s.

16. Oakland Athletics

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    Oakland plays in a decent-sized market but has been reluctant to make big deals in the past, so signing Pujols seems an unlikely scenario.

    As a team, the A's have some good young talent on their roster and need some extra power—particularly at the first base position.

    If the A's can win 81 games with Daric Barton and Kevin Kouzmanoff at the corner infield positions, imagine how well they could play with Pujols.

15. Tampa Bay Rays

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    The Rays took a step back this offseason, losing Carl Crawford, Carlos Pena and Matt Garza. However, Tampa Bay will still have a lot of good young players on their roster for the next several seasons.

    Attempting to compete with New York and Boston, Pujols could join veterans Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez on a new-look team.

14. Baltimore Orioles

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    The Orioles have Derrek Lee at first base this season, but he will be a free agent once the year is up.

    Baltimore is a great baseball city when the team is playing well, but the franchise has not handed out a large contract since they signed Albert Belle before the 1999 season.

    Signing Pujols could dramatically change the entire outlook of an Orioles franchise that needs a makeover. 

13. Milwaukee Brewers

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    First baseman Prince Fielder wants Pujols-like money when he becomes a free agent after the season, but Milwaukee seems reluctant to pay that kind of money to a 270-pound first baseman with a .279 career batting average.

    With players like Ryan Braun, Zack Greinke, Yovani Gallardo and Shawn Marcum still likely to be on the club in 2012, Pujols could make the Brewers a scary team.

12. Colorado Rockies

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    With first baseman Todd Helton past his prime and a lot of talented young players on the team, what would be better than Pujols in Colorado?

    The Rockies play in hitter-friendly Coors Field, setting up Pujols for potentially record breaking numbers, should he sign with Colorado.

11. Toronto Blue Jays

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    The Blue Jays, playing in an extremely tough AL East that includes the Yankees and Red Sox, could improve their chances of winning the division greatly if they dish out the money to sign Albert Pujols.

    The franchise has wealthy owners, some young talent, and could move Adam Lind to DH if Pujols is signed.

10. Texas Rangers

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    Texas may have lost Cliff Lee in free agency, but the Rangers still have a decent young pitching staff and one of the better offenses in baseball.

    Mitch Moreland is the Rangers' current first baseman, but if Texas could figure out a way to acquire Pujols, it would make them one of the elite teams in baseball.

9. Detroit Tigers

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    The Tigers already have Miguel Cabrera, one of the best first baseman in the league, and one who is owed $106 million over the next five seasons.

    However, issues with Miguel Cabrera's behavior make the possibility of their first baseman leaving Detroit a plausible one. Detroit has many good pieces, and would seemingly be willing to spend the money for Pujols if Cabrera is traded.

8. Washington Nationals

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    Although Washington just signed Jayson Werth to a monster contact, you should not discount the Nationals from making a legendary signing next offseason for Pujols. 

    Washington has consistently been one of the weaker teams in the league, but they have arguably the two best young talents, Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg, and they have not been shy about showing interest in marquee players in recent years. 

7. New York Yankees

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    Ironically, the team currently paying first baseman Mark Teixeira $135 million over the next 6 seasons made the list.

    But of course, knowing the Yankees, anything is possible.

    The Red Sox will be a force to be reckoned with for years to come, so the Yankees may do all they can to compete, even if it involves paying Pujols $30 million per year to be their designated hitter.

6. San Francisco Giants

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    The Giants just shelled out $22 million dollars for Aubrey Huff to be their first baseman through 2012. However, Huff is nowhere close to Pujols in terms of hitting for average, speed or playing defense at first base.

    San Francisco, with many great pitchers that have not even peaked yet, could benefit from Pujols as much as anyone, and may do all it can to sign him.

5. New York Mets

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    The Mets are one of the most unpredictable teams at this point, after multiple disappointing seasons before being injury-ridden last year.

    Few holes exist in the Mets starting lineup other than at first base where Ike Davis is expected to be the Mets' everyday player.

    With several big name players still in their prime like Jose Reyes, David Wright and Jason Bay; and with pitchers Francisco Rodriguez and Johan Santana still on the club, the Mets can turn things around dramatically by signing Pujols.

4. Boston Red Sox

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    The Red Sox currently have plenty of depth at first base with Adrian Gonzalez, David Ortiz and Kevin Youkilis. However, Gonzalez and Ortiz are both free agents after the season, while Youkilis can play third base.

    Boston has given the Yankees all they can handle and may try to take it a step further by acquiring Pujols after the season. 

3. Los Angeles Dodgers

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    While the ownership situation in Los Angeles has prevented the Dodgers from making any major moves over the last 2 seasons, things are expected to be resolved by next season.

    The Dodgers play in the second largest MLB market, they are consistently among the leaders in attendance, and they have a solid team up and down the roster—with the exception of a lack of power.  

    Whereas Los Angeles has been content with James Loney at first base, they could get significantly more production from Albert Pujols.

2. Chicago Cubs

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    Carlos Pena is currently the Cubs first baseman, but he will be a free agent after the season and he hit under .200 last year.

    The Cubs play in a big market and would love nothing more than to take the best player from their rival the St. Louis Cardinals.

1. Los Angeles Angels

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    The Angels lost out on Carl Crawford this offseason, but they have not given up on signing a star player to improve the middle of their lineup.

    A franchise held together by a great manager in Mike Scioscia, the Angels have won several divisions of late, even without great teams. The Angels have a decent amount of money to spend and would not hesitate to sign Albert Pujols if given the opportunity.