Alert Pujols Free Agency: Re-Ranking Each Team's Chances with La Russa Gone
The retirement of Tony LaRussa has shook the market for Albert Pujols, even if only slightly. LaRussa's exit means that there is now a greater chance that Pujols leaves St. Louis and lands somewhere else.
More information has become available about teams that are interested in making a move for Pujols this winter, which has impacted the chances about where each player will land.
Fellow Featured Columnist Jeffrey Beckmann wrote a piece in early October about each team's chances of landing Albert Pujols. Much has changed since then, and some teams have seen their odds of signing Pujols increase, while others have seen their chances drop.
30. Los Angeles Dodgers: Zero Percent
As Frank McCourt looks to sell the Los Angeles Dodgers, the team will be in a state of flux. It has been noted that the Dodgers cannot spend any money on free agents until the team is sold, which means that they have no chance of bringing in Albert Pujols.
In addition to the current financial state of the team, the Dodgers already have their own superstar who they are concerned with. Matt Kemp is part of the 2013 monster free agent class, and the Dodgers have expressed interest in re-signing him.
29. Houston Astros: Zero Percent
The Houston Astros will be in rebuilding mode, and Albert Pujols does not fit into their plans. Even if new owner Jim Crane were interested in Pujols, it would be virtually impossible to bring him to Houston.
Houston is looking to get rid of some of their more expensive players, such as Wandy Rodriguez and Brett Myers, this winter, so bringing in a player that would cost them at least $25 million a year does not make much sense.
28. Oakland Athletics: Zero Percent
Billy Beane and his Moneyball methodology focuses on undervalued players who are a good bargain. It is almost impossible to see Pujols fitting in with this model.
In addition, there is some instability in Oakland. The team is hoping that their move to San Jose is approved. If it isn't, there is a possibility that the Athletics would be willing to trade some of their more expensive players this winter.
27. Chicago White Sox: Zero Percent
The Chicago White Sox already have one very good first baseman in Paul Konerko. He is signed until 2013, and Albert Pujols would not be worth the cost to upgrade over him.
Following their disappointing 2011 season, the White Sox may be looking at a rebuilding year if they lose pitcher Mark Buehrle to free agency. Pujols will not be signing with a team that is looking to rebuild.
26. San Diego Padres: Zero Percent
Anthony Rizzo is one of the team's top prospect and should be ready to step into a starting role next season. He will be a much smarter option for the Padres than going out and paying the big money needed to sign Pujols.
25. Detroit Tigers: Zero Percent
There is one reason why Albert Pujols will not be coming to Detroit to don a Tigers uniform. Miguel Cabrera will have the Tigers first base job locked up for a long time.
It is not as if the Tigers could even slide Cabrera to DH, as they already have Victor Martinez situated there. Simply put, there is no room for Pujols in the Motor City.
24. Cincinnati Reds: Zero Percent
Currently, the Cincinnati Reds have a former NL MVP and one of the best young players in the game manning first base for them. Signing Albert Pujols makes no sense for a team that already has Joey Votto.
Though Votto's name has come up in trade rumors, it is highly unlikely that he will be going anywhere. Even if Votto was dealt, the Reds already have a potential replacement in house with top prospect Yonder Alonso.
23. Philadelphia Phillies: Zero Percent
Even with Ryan Howard injured, the Philadelphia Phillies do not have much of a reason to pursue Albert Pujols. While he would be dominant in Citizens Bank Ballpark, the Phillies already have their own high paid first baseman.
The Phillies could conceivable put some of the money they saved by cutting Roy Oswalt towards Pujols, but they would have a major problem once Ryan Howard returns.
22. Minnesota Twins: Zero Percent
The Minnesota Twins are yet another team that already has a top flight first baseman. Justin Morneau has had his issues, but when he stays healthy, he is a very good player.
In addition to this, the Twins are likely leery of handing out massive contracts after the deal they gave to Joe Mauer. He has had knee issues and will likely move to first base at some point during his current deal.
21. Kansas City Royals: Zero Percent
Albert Pujols went to high school in Independence, Mo., which is less than a half an hour drive away from Kansas City. However, don't expect him to be playing anywhere in the state of Missouri if it isn't St. Louis.
While Pujols would immediately make the Kansas City Royals contenders in the AL Central, there is no way that he ends up there. The Royals already have Eric Hosmer entrenched at first base. In addition, the Royals have not shown a willingness to spend the money that would be required to sign Pujols.
20. Tampa Bay Rays: Zero Percent
If there was one move that the Rays could make to officially announce that they were on the level of the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees, it would be signing Albert Pujols. Both of their division rivals would be scared of the team that the Rays could put on the field.
This is also an incredibly unlikely possibility, as the Rays are not in a position to add on this much money to their payroll.
19. Arizona Diamondbacks: Zero Percent
The Arizona Diamondbacks have seen Paul Goldschmidt emerge into a legitimate option at first base, but that would most not likely stop them from making an offer to Albert Pujols.
While Pujols would be able to push the Diamondbacks over the edge and make them even more of a World Series contender, it is uncertain if the Diamondbacks have the available resources to convince Pujols to come to the desert.
18. Pittsburgh Pirates: Zero Percent
While the Pittsburgh Pirates ownership has shown more of a willingness to spend money over the past few years, it is hard to see them making the type of commitment necessary to bring in Albert Pujols.
Additionally, while the Pirates are close to putting a winning team on the field, they have a number of other issues that the need to address. Signing Pujols would not be the best allocation of their resources. There is also the matter of trying to convince Pujols to play in Pittsburgh.
17. Atlanta Braves: Zero Percent
Freddie Freeman is a budding star and looks to be in Atlanta's future as a first baseman. The value is simply not there for the Braves to sign Albert Pujols when they can have Freeman at such a low cost.
In addition to this, the Braves has a number of players who are getting raises in arbitration that will handcuff their spending this winter.
16. New York Mets: Zero Percent
Based on their seemingly lackadaisical pursuit of Jose Reyes, it would seemingly follow that the New York Mets would not be making much of a run at Albert Pujols. If Reyes is out of the Mets' price range, then Pujols certainly is as well.
The Mets also currently have a first baseman in Ike Davis. However, Davis did play in the outfield in college and could move there if the Mets sign Pujols.
15. Colorado Rockies: Zero Percent
There is a chance that the Colorado Rockies make a big splash this winter, but it will not be signing Albert Pujols. It seems as if the Rockies will be making a strong push for New York Mets third baseman David Wright.
Colorado already has two players who will have big contracts in the near future, and they cannot afford a third. In 2015, the Rockies will already have $36 million committed to just Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez.
14. Cleveland Indians: One Percent
A betting man would not think that the Cleveland Indians would sign Albert Pujols this winter. They have not been connected to him at all, but there is an incredibly slim chance that he signs with him.
The Indians do have a potential opening at first base. Additionally, their payroll was just $49 million in 2011, while in 2009, the team spent more than $83 million. This shows that the team has the ability to spend enough money to make a fair offer to Pujols.
13. Milwaukee Brewers: One Percent
The Milwaukee Brewers are not expecting Prince Fielder to return and will need to find some way to replace him. Although Pujols is certainly an option, his price will be very prohibitive for the Brewers.
If they decided to break the bank, the Brewers could make a good run at Pujols this winter. He would join a very good Brewers team and make them favorites to repeat as NL Central champions.
12. Boston Red Sox: Two Percent
The Boston Red Sox already have one All-Star first baseman with a huge contract, so it is very unlikely that they will sign a second. Adrian Gonzalez will be holding his spot at first for years to come.
That is, unless the Red Sox decide that they want to make a run at Albert Pujols. The team could have Gonzalez DH, and they would have a scary good lineup. Should the Red Sox decide to go after Pujols, they certainly could afford him.
11. Baltimore Orioles: Two Percent
In recent years, the Baltimore Orioles have shown more of a willingness to spend money. Their ownership has realized that it must be done if they are to compete in the AL East, and their payroll was just under $87 million in 2011.
In the past, Baltimore has attempted to go after a few big name free agents, but they were not able to sign them. New general manager Dan Duquette will likely try to build by bringing in a few different players, but he could also go for the big splash.
10. Chicago Cubs: Three Percent
While the Chicago Cubs would love to ensure that Albert Pujols is not wearing a St. Louis Cardinals uniform next season, it likely will not occur because they sign him. The Cubs do have an opening at first base, but Pujols may not even be their first choice.
There is some consensus that Prince Fielder may actually be a better choice for the North Siders. Pujols would certainly have to entertain any offer from the Cubs, because if he led them to a World Series, he would reach the same level in Chicago sports lore that is reserved for Michael Jordan.
9. New York Yankees: Four Percent
New York Yankees fans' dreams of seeing Albert Pujols in pinstripes are not likely to come true. according to GM Brian Cashman. He has said that Pujols is not on the team's radar. This makes sense given the fact that they already have Mark Teixeira at first base.
However, this statement needs to be taken with a grain of salt. It could all just be posturing from the Yankees. They certainly have the means to outbid every other team for Pujols if they choose to do so.
8. Los Angeles Angels: Four Percent
While the Los Angeles Angels have the money to afford Albert Pujols, they may not have room for him on their roster. They already have an issue because of Mark Trumbo, Kendrys Morales and all of their outfielders.
They have two possible first basemen, as well as a few DH options. At the moment, Pujols doesn't fit in. There is a chance that the Angels decided to non-tender Morales. If this were to happen, the Angels odds of signing Pujols would increase significantly.
7. Seattle Mariners: Four Percent
With just $44 million committed to players for the 2012 season before arbitration, the Seattle Mariners will have cash burning a hole in their pocket. They could certainly go after a big name first baseman.
Justin Smoak has been given opportunities to hold down the first base job, but he has struggled. He could see himself regulated to the bench if the Cardinals go after Albert Pujols. However, as with some other teams, Prince Fielder seems like a better fit here.
6. Toronto Blue Jays: Six Percent
Prince Fielder has been the big name that has been connected to the Toronto Blue Jays this winter, but Albert Pujols is also a viable option for the team. The Jays could certainly make a play for either of the stars.
Toronto has shown a willingness to pay for talent in the past, and it should be the same this year. They know that they must increase their payroll and bring in elite players to compete with the Yankees and Red Sox.
5. Washington Nationals: Nine Percent
Last offseason, the Washington Nationals shocked many when they made one of the biggest signings of the winter by bringing in Jayson Werth. Is it possible that the Nationals can surprise for the second year in a row?
The Nationals have the capital available to make a run at Pujols, and signing him could drastically improve the team's playoff hopes. They could become playoff contenders sooner rather than later.
If Pujols is signed, it may also lead to the Nationals putting super prospect Bryce Harper on the fast track to the majors. Harper has produced at every level he has been at, but could learn a lot by playing besides Pujols.
4. San Francisco Giants: 10 Percent
The San Francisco Giants already made a big move this offseason when they traded Jonathan Sanchez for Melky Cabrera. That move could easily be dwarfed by one of their free agent signings.
If the Giants are able to find someone to take on Aubrey Huff, they may be able to make a very serious run at Pujols. They could do so without trading Huff, but they would have less money available.
The Giants offense ranked last in the National League in runs and also had the second lowest batting average in the league. Bringing in Pujols to coincide with the return of Buster Posey should instantly solve all of their offensive problems.
3. Miami Marlins: 13 Percent
Just a few weeks ago, it would have been a silly proposition for someone to suggest that the Miami Marlins had a serious shot at Albert Pujols. This is a franchise that twice had fire sales after winning a World Series.
However, the Marlins' seriousness in their pursuit of Jose Reyes shows that they are interested in a big name free agent. Jerry Crasnick has mentioned that Pujols is one of the players that the Marlins have on their radar.
The Marlins could certainly make waves if they were able to bring in Pujols. It is hard to imagine them having trouble drawing fans to their new stadium if they have one of the game's brightest stars wearing their uniform.
2. Texas Rangers: 16 Percent
Losing the World Series once is heartbreaking enough. Losing it twice in a row, especially in the fashion that the Texas Rangers lost it in 2011, is just devastating. The team once again has a chance to contend in 2012, and they want to make sure they come home with the title this time.
At the moment, it seems as if the team's top priority is trying to retain C.J. Wilson. Once that issue is resolved, they can turn their full attention towards Pujols.
The Texas Rangers owners are willing to spend money to win, and this means that they can make a strong run at Albert Pujols. Should the Rangers sign Pujols, Mike Napoli will be catching on a more regular basis, and Michael Young will serve as the Rangers DH.
1. St. Louis Cardinals: 25 Percent
Even with Tony LaRussa gone in St. Louis, the Cardinals still remain the favorites in the Albert Pujols sweepstakes. His exit does hurt the Cardinals chances a bit, though, as he and Pujols got along well, and he was the only manager that Pujols had ever played for in the majors.
The Cardinals could see their odds fluctuate in either direction based on their managerial selection. Either way, there is still Pujols' strong bond to the city of St. Louis, which gives the team an edge.
With all of the teams that have an interest in Pujols, the Cardinals still need to be careful with their offer. If they don't budge off of their original offer and another team comes in and offers Pujols a much bigger deal, it will certainly be a difficult decision for him to make.
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