MLB Free Agent Speculation: Top Suitors for Albert Pujols
Albert Pujols has recently picked up the pace on his 2011 season, batting .317 post All-Star break with just 15 more RBI to go until he has yet another 30 home run, 100 RBI season. Albert Pujols is on his way to becoming the top paid first baseman in the game.
There is no chance that a hometown discount will be applied for the St. Louis Cardinals, and more teams will be seeking Pujols's services than many believe.
These six teams will be seeking Albert Pujols hard come winter meetings.
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Washington is ready to put fans in the seats with a healthy Strasburg and a young phenom in Bryce Harper. The NL East is predicated on pitching as of now, but the Nationals will look to change that by establishing the best batting order in the division. Jason Werth was a mistake, but signing Pujols will not be compounding that mishap. Pujols has had consistency throughout his long career unlike Werth.
What could be preventing this from happening is Scott Boras client Prince Fielder. However, the Nats let Adam Dunn walk last offseason. Washington's front office would prefer a rock defensively over at first base for years to come. Fielder may be younger than Pujols, but he hasn't and won't keep himself in the same type of shape, especially when Fielder gets a fat contract.
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The Marlins open up their new stadium next season and more fans will have to show up. The fish tank behind home plate will help do that, but good baseball players will go further in that task. Double plays with Hanley Ramirez tossing to Albert Pujols could even spark up interest in Miami.
Pujols would show Ramirez the way to becoming the ultimate professional. Florida hasn't had a first baseman near the same level of Pujols since Miguel Cabrera was traded to Detroit in 2007.
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Carlos Pena has actually given Chicago what they signed up for when giving him a one year, $10 million contract. The deal is up after this season and the Cubs would love to have Pujols as an upgrade. They'd take their division's toughest batter to face and add him. Addition to your team while subtraction from a rival is liked in every sport.
Chicago is still in search for a president of baseball operations and two names that the team is looking at are Theo Epstein and Brian Cashman. Those men have both acquired top first basemen in the last three years, with the Yankees signings Mark Teixera and the Red Sox getting Adrian Gonzalez.
The money will be there for the Cubs to spend even though there's a great amount of money tied up into the roster.
Los Angeles Angels
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Pujols definitely fits manager Mike Scoiscia's mold, but rookie Mark Trumbo has hit 26 home runs. The Angels could use him as a designator hitter, but there are old players on the roster that could use the DH spot as a day off.
The pitching rotation has been top five in all of baseball and it could use some runs on the board. Who better to do so than Albert Pujols? The AL West doesn't have a Boston or New York spending organization in it, either.
San Francisco Giants
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Switching to the NL West, the Giants have arguably the best pitching rotation throughout all of baseball. Aubrey Huff isn't cutting it at first base. Pablo Sandoval seems to be the only Giant consistently hitting. Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain are in their primes; it shouldn't be wasted with the garbage lineup the team is throwing out to the field every day.
The organization has proven that it's willing to spend money with the Carlos Beltran trade, but taking on Albert Pujols means committing much more. San Francisco shouldn't be content with waiting for their young talent to rise up because it's a win now roster.
St. Louis Cardinals
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Don't count out the Cardinals from keeping Pujols in their grasp. He's the best player the franchise has ever had and he's been with the team his entire career.
One possibility that is unattractive for Cardinals fans is letting Pujols go while resigning Berkman and moving him over to first base. Berkman has revived his career with the season he's having, but it would be better to move Berkman rather than lose Pujols despite the salary differences.
Albert Pujols means as much to St. Louis as the Gateway Arch and the city is as good of a baseball town as any else.