The Free Agency pool of 2011/12 is a populated one.
This being said, there may be less teams than expected looking to hook the biggest fish of all in Albert Pujols when the time to negotiate deals arrives after the World Series.
Prior to the start of the 2011 season, it was noted that Pujols could be looking for a deal in the ballpark of $300 Million over 10 years.
Now whether or not you think any player has ever been worth $30M/year is up to your moral code (mine says absolutely not), but as it stands, fans don't have a say in contract negotiations for star players. Or, any players for that matter (but could you imagine)?
Now, Pujols is currently struggling through the worst statistical year of his career (.288 avg, 31 home runs, 78 RBI), and while $30M/year is dreamer talk for any player, when the figures in brackets represent the worst of 11 seasons, a contract somewhere in the neighborhood of $25M/year may be a more swing-able deal for Pujols.
Yet, even a $5M/year discount to what he was looking for seems to have generated little banter among teams who would be considered viable options for Pujols.
That's right, after the infamous amicable invasion of each others' personal space, now known as "The Hug", Pujols shared with Cubs GM Jim Hendry back in May, the trail has more or less gone cold.
That leaves us to question whether the interest in one of the top 10 best baseball players of all time is wavering; whether there will really be a mad dash to be the first to contend an offer, or a small handful of teams coming up short to the highest bidder.
The bottom line is that Pujols' stock seems to be depreciating, and while his numbers in 2011 would be considered career years for a vast number of players, they are significant decreases from his previous 10 seasons, and a 10 year contract valued at $250-$300 million is starting to look less and less plausible.
So without further adieu, here are who I think have the best chance to make a run at Albert Pujols.