Albert Pujols Free Agency: St. Louis Cardinals vs. the Field
Albert Pujols isn't leaving St. Louis. There, it's that simple. Considering his age, injury concerns and impact on the city of St. Louis, Pujols is worth more to the Cardinals than to any other organization. But if he did, where would he go?
Let's say theoretically the Cardinals are devoid of business smarts, let alone baseball IQ, and let the most influential player in Cardinals history since Stan Musial to walk. Who would have the dough to even make a bid for the generation's most prolific hitter?
I'm not a Cardinals fan, or a fan of any of their rivals. As a baseball fan, I want to see him stay, like I wanted to see Joe Mauer and Derek Jeter stay. Certain players just should wear certain jerseys and Albert Pujols deserves the statue next to Musial that he will get if he stays in St. Louis.
What bigger impact could Theo Epstein have in his new home than to lure the game's biggest star away from a division rival? The Cubs are expected to be buyers in the offseason and they might try to scrounge together enough money to make a bid.
Realistically, the Cubs are still handcuffed by comedic contracts to Carlos Zambrano and Alfonso Soriano. It doesn't seem likely that they could collect the $25-30 million for the next six to eight years that he will likely get from St. Louis.
Don't look now, but the Nationals have a ton of young talent and money to spend. A lineup with Pujols surrounded by Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman, Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa, with Strasburg, Zimmerman and Storen throwing, could make for a contender.
The Nationals might have the most money to play with out of the teams that could be in the market for a first baseman of Pujols' caliber, but at the end of the day, I think Prince Fielder is a more likely candidate. He's younger, and the Nats would be wise to try and sign him while everyone else is waiting to see what happens with Albert.
Don't be surprised to see the Nationals make an offer for Pujols, if for no other reason than to drive up the price on St. Louis.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
The Angels are widely known as one of the best organizations in baseball, from the ownership to management on down. One would think they have first base covered in Kendry Morales, but he's missed the better part of the last two seasons with a fluke broken leg.
The Angels have excellent pitching but have struggled to put runs on the board and Arte Moreno might be willing to take an expensive gamble on the 31-year-old future Hall of Famer.
The Angels provide the added bonus of being able to move Pujols to DH when he grows older to keep him healthy, perhaps allowing them to offer more years than most.
Dark Horse: Florida Marlins
Hanley Ramirez, Mike Stanton, Albert Pujols...any pitching staff in baseball would shudder to see those three back to back.
The biggest motivator for the usually thrifty Marlins is they are moving into a new ballpark and they will need to fill it if they have any aspirations of staying in Florida. They have to fill seats and to get people out in that miserable weather, they have to compete.
Albert is easily outside of the Marlins' normal price range, but there's still a chance they take a shot.
Dark Horse: Los Angeles Dodgers
What if Frank McCourt is desperate enough to keep the Dodgers that he makes a historic offer to Albert Pujols in an attempt to prove to Bud Selig he is serious about the team? It's an intriguing scenario.
It remains to be seen how McCourt's legal issues will pan out, and for how many years they will cripple the organization, but there is still ton of talent there, led by Cy Young candidate Clayton Kershaw and MVP candidate Matt Kemp. The infusion of Pujols would jump them to the top of AL West contenders.
Rumors Only: AL East
But Boston and New York are satisfied with Adrian Gonzalez and Mark Teixeira. The Yankees just gave CC Sabathia a raise and picked up Nick Swisher and Robinson Cano's 2012 options. Meanwhile the Red Sox are shopping for a general manager.
Neither of these teams will likely sign Pujols, but it will make for some fun conversations and rumors in the meantime. Both would be wiser to spend available money on pitching.