Albert Pujols and Jim Hendry looked very friendly during batting practice prior to the first game between the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals this season, according to multiple reports. Naturally, that news has given a kick-start to dormant rumors about the possibility of the Cubs being actively interested when Pujols hits free agency this November.
On the surface, the possibility of Pujols and the Cubs having mutual interest looks more like an inevitability. Cubs first baseman Carlos Pena is under contract only through season's end. The Cubs have Kosuke Fukudome, Carlos Silva, John Grabow, Jeff Samardzija, Pena and either Ryan Dempster or Aramis Ramirez coming off their payroll at the end of the year.
As well, Pujols, who is seeking a contract to rival Alex Rodriguez's 2007 deal with the Yankees (10 years, $275 million), may not feel he can get his cash anywhere else.
Recently, though, a few creeping developments have given perfectly good cause for the Cubs to mitigate their interest. Hendry and Pujols may have looked very much interested in one another, but that does not mean the Cubs should put $240 million-plus on reserve to lock down Pujols. Let's take a closer look at the valuation process through which the Cubs will matriculate with regard to Pujols over the next few months.