MLB Free Agents 2012: 5 Teams in Line to Land Albert Pujols

Richard LangfordCorrespondent IOctober 31, 2011

ST. LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 30: First baseman Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals waves to the crowd during the World Series victory parade for the franchise's 11th championship on October 30, 2011 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Szczepanski/Getty Images)
Ed Szczepanski/Getty Images

Albert Pujols is going to wind up in one of the five following places next season.

Pujols just finished off an eight-year, $111 million contract with the Cardinals, and he will be looking for even more money. He can certainly make the case that he earned it.

During that contract, he won three National League MVPs, two World Series titles, three NL pennants and managed a Triple Crown for the just-completed decade.

Teams are going to go hard after Pujols with big-money contracts. Here are the five that will be the biggest players.


Chicago Cubs

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 25:  Theo Epstein, the new President of Baseball Operations for the Chicago Cubs, speaks during a press conference at Wrigley Field on October 25, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Cubs are going to get a power bat this offseason. If it isn't Pujols, it will be Prince Fielder. My guess is that they will not re-sign Carlos Pena and use that money and then some to land one of these premier sluggers.

Pujols would completely revamp this lineup and excite a fanbase that could use some excitement.


Boston Red Sox

BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 25:  Ben Cherington smiles after he was named the Executive Vice President/ General manager of the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park October 25, 2011 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

The Red Sox got good production out of Adrian Gonzalez and David Ortiz at first base and DH. However, their epic collapse has left them desperate, and there is not a bigger impact that could be made than signing Pujols.

The Red Sox could lighten the load on the aging Ortiz with this acquisition and beef up their lineup in the process.


Texas Rangers

ST LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 28:  Ian Kinsler #5 of the Texas Rangers is safe at first base after an error by Albert Pujols #5 of the St. Louis Cardinals in the second inning during Game Seven of the MLB World Series at Busch Stadium on October 28, 2011 in St L
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

The Rangers have been so close to winning the World Series, and they will be more willing to extend themselves to get a piece to ensure their run continues.

Albert Pujols addition to that lineup would make it one of the most prolific in baseball history. It would be a nightmare for opposing pitchers.

Washington Nationals

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - SEPTEMBER 28:  Stephen Strasburg #37 of the Washington Nationals pitches during a game against the Florida Marlins at Sun Life Stadium on September 28, 2011 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The Nationals have proven that they are determined to be a factor. They proved that last offseason with the giant contract to Jayson Werth, and they demonstrated that with the huge contract given to rookies Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper.

Pujols would instantly transform this lineup, and if Strasburg stayed healthy, this team would be an instant contender.


St. Louis Cardinals

ST. LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 30: Manager Tony LaRussa of the St. Louis Cardinals acknowledges the celebrating crowd inside Busch Stadium on October 30, 2011 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Szczepanski/Getty Images)
Ed Szczepanski/Getty Images

No one knows the value of Pujols better than the Cardinals. It is the only team he has known, and the Cardinals have certainly bared the fruits of that relationship.

They will do everything they can to keep him. It is going to take a monster offer to pry Pujols away from the Cardinals.