Albert Pujols: The 5 Most Revealing Quotes About Free Agency
Albert Pujols may have played his last game in St. Louis as a member of the Cardinals this Sunday. With St. Louis missing the playoffs a very real possibility, the slugger's contract talks will soon heat up.
Pujols set a deadline for a contract extension in spring training. He promised not to let contract talks drag on through the regular season.
Pujols' February deadline came and passed without a new contract. True to his word, the Cardinals first baseman has not allowed his impending free agency distract him from the regular season.
There has been little insight from the Pujols camp, but a little digging reveals the first baseman and a few of other people giving us a look into the situation in St. Louis.
The Deadline Passes
Albert Pujols has said very little about his free agent plans during the season. The last time he really spoke about his plans was on February 17, when he arrived for spring training the day after his self imposed deadline passed.
What Pujols said, will make Cardinals fans feel a little better as the free agent frenzy begins.
"Not disappointed," Pujols said. "It's negotiations. It happens. Two sides didn't get together and get an agreement and that's the way it goes. It's negotiations. You can't get disappointed. You know why? Because I still have another chance after the season and maybe we'll get something done then."
"What do I want? Hey, I want to be a Cardinal forever," Pujols said, "That's my goal."
It is clear Pujols want to finish his career in St. Louis. The ball is in his court. The Cardinals are going to offer the world. Whether or not Pujols takes the offer will depend on just how deeply he wants to stay in the city of St. Louis.
An Executive Weighs In
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Albert Pujols is reportedly seeking a ten year contract approaching $300 million. He will be 32 years old by the time the contract starts. The Cardinals have no way of knowing how Pujols' body will hold up.
Andy MacPhail has spent his whole life in baseball, and realizes why Pujols may have to lower his sights.
"Alex Rodriguez to Texas was the worst signing in the history of baseball in my view," said MacPhail, referring to the 10-year, $252 million deal signed in December 2000. "There is this assumption that because this guy got (a huge contract) and this guy got (an even bigger contract), Albert Pujols has to get (more than both). Well, what if there are no bidders? What if the music stops and there are no chairs?"
Giving a ten year contract to a 32-year-old player might not be the best idea. The Cardinals may benefit from the fact that baseball's two biggest spenders, the Yankees and Red Sox, will not be bidding for Pujols. There are few other teams who could afford to make Albert Pujols the highest paid player in baseball.
If Pujols cannot find an offer that blows St. Louis out of the water, his desire to remain with the Cardinals could drive him to settle for less.
Pujols Defends His Agent
Albert Pujols has been with agent Danny Lozano for over ten years. Lozano has recently snagged superstars such as Alex Rodriguez, Joey Votto and Jimmy Rollins.
As Albert Pujols approaches his mega-contract, rival agents have been attempting to lure Pujols away from Lozano's agency.
He has stated that he will not be seeking a new agent.
"I've heard all of the dirt about Danny from agents for the last 10 years, all trying to sign me. They're wasting their time. Danny has been an open book. To me, he's the best agent in the business, and I trust him with my life."
It is highly unlikely that Lozano will allow Pujols to leave much money on the table. This could be a landmark series of negotiations for Lozano. The contract is as much a part of his legacy as Pujols'.
Is Cardinals Management Trying to Save Face?
How bad do the St. Louis Cardinals really want Albert Pujols back next season? This quote from Cardinals Chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. could have tipped his management team's thoughts with this quote.
"It's a process we have no control over," DeWitt said. "If he chooses to go elsewhere, that's his decision. Players are mobile in this generation."
I have a hard time believing that the St. Louis Cardinals top brass really feels this way about losing Albert Pujols. They know they need him.
Pujols is the face of their franchise. With him they are a contender. Without him, the team will struggle.
I don't know if this quote is some sort of attempt by DeWitt to save face. He could be trying to make it seem like his offer to Pujols was fair. I believe if the Cardinals initial offer was fair, the contract would have already been signed.
I can understand why DeWitt would be reluctant to offer Pujols the richest contract in baseball history. It would be unfair, however, for them to attempt to lump some of the blame on Pujols if he leaves. If they do not make a fair offer, they must be willing to tell the city of St. Louis.
Albert Pujols has done too much for the city of St. Louis. Doing anything that appears to make him look greedy would be a slap in the face.
Albert's Last Game?
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Albert Pujols received a 45 second standing ovation during his first at-bat on Sunday. It was quite possibly the last time he would take the field in St. Louis wearing a Cardinals jersey. St. Louis fans showed their appreciation.
After the game, Pujols offered this sound bite where he once again reiterated the point that he is not ready to think about free agency.
"Right now, I'm still a Cardinal," he said. "I'm going to do my best to help this organization to the next level. That's my job. If I get distracted, thinking about what's going to happen this offseason, I don't think I'm doing my job."
The regular season is drawing to a close. St. Louis will play a must-win game tonight. Albert Pujols says he is not distracted, but it is hard to believe that as his free agency draws ever closer, it will not be on his mind.