MLB Playoffs 2011: Brewers vs. Cardinals Is Turning into Battle of Free Agents

Donald WoodFeatured ColumnistOctober 11, 2011

MILWAUKEE, WI - OCTOBER 10:  Albert Pujols #5 of the St. Louis Cardinals looks on during the performance of the 'God Bless America: against the Milwaukee Brewers during Game Two of the National League Championship Series at Miller Park on October 10, 2011 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

When the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Philadelphia Phillies to earn a chance to play the Milwaukee Brewers for the National League pennant, the battle was slated as the battle of the first basemen.

Albert Pujols vs. Prince Fielder.

It should have read: Potential free agent vs. potential free agent.

This battle has been an offensive showcase for the first two games, and at the center of the offensive explosion has been the two men who could be leaving town at the end of the season.

Both Pujols and Fielder play for smaller markets that may not be able to pay them the kind of money that the Phillies paid Ryan Howard, which is what both men will use as the template for their deals.

While the Cardinals and Brewers will be in a tough spot this offseason, Milwaukee looks like they’re farther from signing Fielder because of the enormous contract they gave Ryan Braun earlier this season.

It’s unclear if they could afford to sign Fielder to a similar deal, but if they win the World Series, the pressure will be on for the Brewers to lock their slugger up long-term.

The pressure would be immense on the Brewers if they won it all, but it will be even worse for the St. Louis Cardinals, because Pujols is looking to become the highest paid player in the game.

And what happens if both men lose and become free agents? Who will sign them?

The possibility of both men hitting the free agency market is an amazing proposition, and the odds of it actually coming to fruition increases with every day that passes.

This NLCS will go a long way in one or both of these men getting the money they deserve, whether it is with their current team or the first team that offers the cash they’re looking for.

MLB may be looking at a seismic shift next season if these enormous pieces fall into different places next year.

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