Albert Pujols Injury: 2 Ways It Will Impact the MLB Offseason
However, the Cardinals have stayed in contention since Pujols hit the 15-Day Disabled List with a fractured forearm and are currently clinging to a one game lead in the highly contested NL Central.
Originally slated to miss anywhere from 6-8 weeks, Pujols has made a miraculous recovery and is anticipating a return sometime this week, if not tonight.
Despite his speedy recovery, one must wonder how this recent brush with severe injury plays into Pujols' contract demands.
Expected to test the free agent market this winter, Pujols has been rumored to be seeking a 10 year, $300 million deal.
With Pujols' other-wordly demands in mind, the Cardinals may be inclined to walk away from their franchise cornerstone given the adequate ball they've played in his absence.
Here are two ways that Pujols' injury will impact the MLB Offseason.
Pujols' Diminished Value to the Cardinals
10 years, $300 million.
Those are some lofty demands out of Albert Pujols' camp.
However, if any one player in baseball has the leverage to implement that number as his asking price, it's Albert Pujols.
Even so, the St. Louis Cardinals must now contemplate whether or not they're willing to financially obligate themselves to a record setting deal for the next decade. If they were cautiously pondering Albert's demands before his injury, the Cardinals must now be highly hesitant to throw that kind of money out– even to the greatest player in baseball.
Up to this point, the Cardinals have gone 6-7 in Pujols' absence, while leading the NL Central race by 1 game. This revelation has prompted the Cardinals to ask themselves if they're willing to throw out a $300 million contract over the span of 10 years just to get over the .500 hump.
Teams that sign players to big time contracts like this are either named the Yankees, or are looking to go from a "worst to first" sort of scenario.
There's no denying Pujols' place as the best player in baseball at the moment, and he most likely will still be in the conversation 10 years from now, too.
But the recent time Albert has spent away from the Cardinals may have caused them to realize that they can survive without him.
That revelation may save them from making one of the most lofty investments in the history of sports.
Trickle Down Effect with Other Free Agents
If teams begin to deem Albert Pujols as not worthy of his preferred contract, another free agent first baseman will benefit.
His name is Prince Fielder.
Fielder is putting together an MVP-type season thus far in 2011, and is quietly demonstrating that he deserves to be in the same class as Pujols when discussing the top free agent talent available this winter.
He's also proving that he's worthy of a milestone contract.
If Pujols' value continues to decrease, Fielder may be looking at a big-time payday—larger than the one he's already set to receive.
At 27 years of age, Fielder is four years Pujols' junior. With the recent injury to Pujols and the way the Cards have fared in his absence, don't be surprised to see Fielder earn a contract much similar if not greater than that of Albert's.