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Albert Pujols Trade Rumors: 10 Possible Teams That Could Make a Deadline Deal

Jason LempertCorrespondent IMay 17, 2011

Albert Pujols Trade Rumors: 10 Possible Teams That Could Make a Deadline Deal

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    Albert Pujols is due to become a free agent for the first time after the 2011 season.Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Coming into the 2011 season, Albert Pujols possessed 408 career home runs—all of which have come in a St. Louis Cardinals uniform. But by the time the 2011 season comes to an end, Pujols could be wearing a different uniform.

    Right now, the Cardinals are sitting a game and a half game out of the National League Central division lead (entering play Tuesday). Pujols is having a bit of a roller coaster season. He has seven home runs so far, but has only 10 total extra base hits and is hitting .259 (70 points lower than his career average).

    Over the next couple of months, all eyes will be on Pujols and the Redbirds. Will the Cardinals trade the free agent-to-be mid-season? Where will he go? What will they get in return for the future Hall-of-Famer? Here's a look at some potential suitors for the slugging first baseman.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

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    Angels' general manager, Tony ReaginsJeff Gross/Getty Images

    The current state of their payroll may make it difficult to pull of a trade for baseball's "King of Pop." According to Cot's Contracts, the Angels' opening day payroll was already over $141 million, the fourth highest in baseball.

    But they recently announced that first baseman Kendrys Morales will miss the entire 2011 season, after undergoing a second operation while recovering from fracturing his leg on May 29 last year. Rookie Mark Trumbo has filled in admirably for Morales, but a presence like Pujols' would make the loss of Morales look more like a gain.

    It's unlikely the Halos make a move for Prince Albert, but they certainly have the need. Though they currently sit atop the AL West, their pitching is doing much of the heavy lifting right now. They are just above the league average in runs scored and home runs.

Chicago Cubs

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    Jim Hendry, Cubs' general managerJonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    When Babe Ruth was sold to the Yankees, that pretty much started a bloodbath rivalry between the Red Sox and the Bombers. Imagine what would happen if the Cardinals traded their franchise player to their already fan-hated Chicago Cubs.

    And though the recent embrace between Albert Pujols and Cubs' general manager Jim Hendry by no means solidifies the North Side as a future destination for the three-time MVP, it certainly has caused quite a stir in the baseball world.

    The Cubs have at least $45 million coming off the books at the end of this season, which could be just enough to net them the middle-of-the-order bat they've been so desperately missing the last several seasons. The fifth-place Cubs are near the bottom of the league in home runs and runs scored.

    It would be a stake in the heart for the St. Louis faithful to see their prized possession don their rival's jersey. But, then again, harsher things have happened.

New York Yankees

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    Yankees' general manager, Brian CashmanLeon Halip/Getty Images

    You can't legitimately create a list of possible teams to make a blockbuster mid-season trade without including the New York Yankees. Granted, they already have the game's highest payroll. And yes, they already have one of the best first basemen in the game in Mark Teixeira. But remember, this is the Yankees we are talking about here.

    It wouldn't be the first time the Yankees made a "trade heard 'round the world." They did trade for some guy named A-Rod a few years back.

    And with 2011 being the final year on general manager Brian Cashman's contract, and his future with the club uncertain, he may want to make one final splash in the Bronx. Of course, by now Yankee fans must be salivating over the dream of having a lineup that includes Albert Pujols, Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano and Teixeira. Who can top that?

    It would be a shame to put either Pujols or Tex in the DH slot, as they are both highly skilled defensemen. But it could be a move worth making to have the best offensive lineup in the history of the game.

Washington Nationals

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    Nationals' general manager, Mike RizzoMitchell Layton/Getty Images

    A few years ago, putting the Washington Nationals on this list would be absolutely crazy. For a while, they were nothing more than a perennial last place team with no payroll room.

    Enter 2011, when the team seemingly came out of nowhere to sign outfielder Jayson Werth to a mega-deal worth $126 million over seven years. They also signed veteran first baseman Adam LaRoche to add some punch to their lineup, as they try to make themselves into a serious player in the National League.

    So far this season, LaRoche has done anything but produce for the Nats, and the team is still struggling to put up offense at an impactful pace (they have the game's worst batting average). Adding a bat like Pujols' would certainly add some credibility to this lineup, and the Nationals have been known to shock people before.

    However, Pujols does have full no-trade protection and would likely prefer to go to a team that will contend in 2011. But don't sleep on the Nats. they've drafted very well over the years, and could become a contender in the not-so-distant future—something Pujols could keep in mind.

Texas Rangers

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    Rangers' general manager, Jon DanielsRonald Martinez/Getty Images

    The Texas Rangers already have a high-octane offense. They are currently second in the American League in home runs and fourth in runs scored. Yet, they enter play on Tuesday three games over .500, with a half-game lead over the Angels in the division.

    As good as their offense has been in 2011, virtually none of it has come from the first base position. Rangers' first basemen—a combination of Chris Davis, Mitch Moreland, Mike Napoli and Michael Young— have combined for just four of the team's 46 home runs. Albert Pujols has seven for himself.

    The Rangers fell just short of their first ever World Series championship last fall. You can be sure the team wants more. Pujols could only help. They have the pieces to move that could land them the three-time MVP.

San Francisco Giants

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    Giants' general manager Brian SabeanJeff Gross/Getty Images

    The San Francisco Giants could be viewed as the darkhorse of this list. The reigning World Series champs are not known for their mid-season blockbuster trades. But if they are desperate enough, that could easily change.

    There have already been vast rumors of the Giants taking a long, hard look at the Mets' Jose Reyes to fill their shortstop gap. But the G-Men are also lacking offensive production out of the first base position. Buster Posey, Mark DeRosa, Aubery Huff and Brandon Belt have all combined to hit .204 and four home runs at first base.

    The Giants likely are not in the position to obtain both Reyes and Pujols. But they certainly have the pieces to make a move for one of them, and one could be all this team needs to bring them back to the Fall Classic in 2011.

Oakland Athletics

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    Athletics' general manager, Billy Beane.Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Similar to their counterparts across the bay, the Oakland A's are not usually in the business of bringing in big-name players like Pujols by way of mid-season trades. But perhaps the fact that they are 11th in the league in home runs and runs scored could sway GM Billy Beane's position.

    Youngster Daric Barton has been manning first base primarily this year, and he's yet to hit a long ball in 140 at-bats in 2011. Barton is eligible for arbitration for the first time after this season, and he has yet to put up any consistent, positive offensive numbers. The A's have yet to lock him up long-term.

    They lost out on free agents Lance Berkman and Adrian Beltre last winter, and have been unable to compensate for that missing offense. They are reportedly interested in Carlos Beltran as a possible summer swap, but he would likely just be a short-term fix, while Pujols would be a long-term solution.

    Pujols could become the best hitter to play in Green and Gold since Mark McGwire. Beane will have to be willing to part with some young talent and a bunch of money. But as the A's look to get back to the playoffs for the first time since 2006, perhaps Beane will be more willing to do what is necessary.

Toronto Blue Jays

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    Blue Jays' general manager, Alex Anthopoulos (photo courteous of Sportsillustrated.com)

    The Toronto Blue Jays represent an interesting possibility in the potential Albert Pujols sweepstakes. This team is stocked with talent up and down the roster. Yet, mainly due to the fact they play in the game's toughest division, they can never seem capitalize on that talent.

    The Jays haven't finished higher than third in the AL East since a second place finish in 2006, despite finishing better than .500 three times from '07-'10. It's almost inexplicable.

    So would this team, which hasn't been in the playoffs since winning it all in 1993, be willing to make the necessary sacrifices to bring in Pujols? You would have to figure that adding Pujols to a lineup that already has 44 home runs would significantly increase their chances in this tough division.

Cleveland Indians

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    Indians' general manager, Chris Antonetti (photo courteous of sportsillustrated.com)

    Ok, raise your hands if you knew the Cleveland Indians were going to have the best record in the American League a month-and-a-half into the season. Thank you.

    It's true. The Cleveland Indians' 24-13 record is tops in the AL, which has made some wonder if we somehow got zapped into an alternate universe. But this is reality, and the Indians are making noise. Travis Hafner has returned to form after several consecutive disaster seasons.

    Fausto Carmona has regained his position as ace staff. Justin Masterson, Josh Tomlin and rookie Alex White have been very impressive.

    So that leaves the million-dollar question—can the Indians keep this up all season? If they can add Albert Pujols' bat to that lineup, you'd have to figure the answer is "without a doubt."

    The Indians may not have the budget to add someone like Pujols, but his presence would pretty much solidify themselves as a favorite in the American League. His arrival would also allow Matt LaPorta to return to left field, where Austin Kearns has been anything but impressive.

Atlanta Braves

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    Braves' general manager, Frank WrenMike Zarrilli/Getty Images

    Nothing against Freddie Freeman, but Albert Pujols could present the Atlanta Braves with an enormous upgrade at first base.

    Freeman, a rookie, has four home runs so far in 2011, and has a career .219 batting average. The former second-round pick was rated the No. 11 prospect by Baseball America prior to this season.

    But adding Pujols to the fold would make the Braves an instant favorite in the NL East, while they continue to battle the Phillies in the division. The Braves have chips to move (including Freeman) if the deal is right, and they could have the motivation, as they are looking to regain the dominance they possessed in the 1990's.

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