MLB Free Agency: The Top 5 AL and NL Teams That Are Good Fits for Albert Pujols
With the NBA season on hiatus for now, the MLB offseason looks like it could fill the hoops void for sports fans this winter.
The baseball universe will be carefully tracking the movements of the most talented free agent pool since, well, last season.
This season's free agent class contains just a bit more star power than last year's. There are several big name players looking for new homes and contracts.
Big names like Prince Fielder, Jose Reyes and Jimmy Rollins will receive a lot of attention, but none more than Mr. Albert Pujols.
I've devised a list of the top five American League and National League teams that would prove the best fits for the services of "The Machine," should he decide to leave St. Louis.
It makes more sense for Pujols to switch leagues, considering his age and the lengthy contract he desires.
Since Albert still wants to be an everyday first baseman, going to the AL will provide him with the opportunity to slowly settle into a Designated Hitter role once his defensive skills begin to erode.
Here are his best options for that transition...
5. Boston Red Sox
This is a big long shot considering how much the Sox spent on bats last season, and how they are currently in the market for pitching.
However, a huge move like this would quickly put Boston's new front office in the good graces of the Boston faithful.
With the strong possibility of the departure of current DH David Ortiz, the intriguing part of this scenario would be how the Red Sox would use Pujols.
He was showcased several times last season playing third base, which would allow Boston to move the often-injured Kevin Youkilis to the DH slot.
Like I said, it's a big stretch—but could you imagine that line-up?
4. Los Angeles Angels
This move is a little less of a stretch than the Boston maneuver. It would definitely help the Angels steal the hearts of LA from the Dodgers.
You add the Pujols' firepower to the arms of Jared Weaver and Dan Haren, and you have the recipe for an instant pennant threat.
The only hitch here is that the Angels already have a breakout young star in current first baseman Mark Trumbo, so Pujols signing here could push him towards DH duties sooner than he wants.
3. Tampa Bay Rays
This team is just some consistent power and veteran leadership away from taking over the AL East.
The Rays already have a solid pitching staff, featuring David Price, James Shields and Jeremy Hellickson. Their lineup is also productive, being led by Evan Longoria and B.J. Upton.
They currently have a legitimate need for an upgrade at first base, so why not go out and get the best in the business and snatch up Pujols?
The only downfall to this move is that Pujols would be forced to play in that domed contraption the Rays call a ballpark.
2. Cleveland Indians
Cleveland was a surprise team last season, led by breakout star shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera and young catching sensation Carlos Santana.
The Indians led the AL Central for half of the season, but as the season wore on it became glaringly obvious that they were missing key pieces to make a serious run at a pennant.
Albert Pujols could be that piece.
Current first baseman Matt LaPorta has not developed as quickly as Cleveland has hoped, so Pujols could also serve as a valuable mentor to the youngster.
1. Texas Rangers
What do you get the team that has been to back-to-back World Series?
You help them get the elusive title that they haven't been able to grasp. How do you help them do that? You give them the best first baseman on Earth—and why not steal him from the team who just beat you to win the World Series?
The Rangers already have plenty of firepower in their lineup with Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz and Ian Kinsler. They have a young and talented pitching staff that will only get better with time.
Signing Pujols would almost (don't anybody say "Dream Team") guarantee them a World Series title in the near future.
Staying in the league he is already comfortable in also makes sense for Albert Pujols.
He is familiar with all the teams and could loosen up his contract demands in order to remain in the league that he has been so productive in over the years.
Here are his best options in the National League...
5. New York Mets
The Mets have been Tito Jackson to the Yankees for far too long. What better way to steal some the the Bronx Bombers' limelight than to snag the best player in baseball?
The Mets are currently reconstructing their outfield at Citi Field to make it more hitter friendly for third baseman David Wright, the current face of the franchise.
It wouldn't hurt to also give Wright some protection in the lineup—protection that would come by the name of Albert Pujols—especially with shortstop Jose Reyes on his way out the door.
A factor that might be unappealing to Pujols in such a deal would be a move from the friendly media types of St. Louis to the craziness of a major outlet such as New York.
Wouldn't want to see another A-Rod situation if Albert doesn't immediately produce.
4. San Francisco Giants
The Giants have all the pitching in the world, but no offense to provide run support. They just seem to duct tape the holes in their lineup with capable yet inconsistent bats.
Adding Pujols as the centerpiece to their lineup would give them a definite direction to go in deciding how to run their offense.
Also, how pretty would it be to see Albert hit 30 or 40 bombs into McCovey Cove every year?
3. Chicago Cubs
This would be a very delicate situation. Imagine one of the greatest Cardinals of all-time crossing over to guide their hated rivals, the Chicago Cubs, to a championship.
It would be like President Obama aligning himself with the Tea Party—utter chaos.
The Cubs' new President, Theo Epstein, might want to define his era early in Chicago by making a huge splash in the free agency market. There would be no bigger splash than to steal Albert Pujols away from the Cards.
They are probably a few years away from seriously competing, but completing a deal to lock up Pujols for a number of years would show the world how serious Epstein is about bringing a World Series trophy to the North Side of Chicago.
2. Los Angeles Dodgers
Frank McCourt finally smartened up, and is selling the Dodgers to a hopefully more capable owner.
A new ownership team would show tremendous dedication by signing a heavily coveted star like Albert Pujols to hit alongside NL MVP candidate Matt Kemp.
The Dodgers are a major market team, and would only benefit by signing an all-world player like Pujols to help fill the seats.
If signing a declining Manny Ramirez gave a great boost to fan morale and attendance in 2008, just imagine what signing Pujols would do for the team.
1. Miami Marlins
Hopefully this won't bring back bad memories of another major "Decision" in South Beach from 2010. The Marlins have already changed from Florida to Miami, constructed a new state of the art ballpark, and revamped their logo and uniforms.
In addition to that, they hired the fiery Ozzie Guillen to be their manager and have already made offers to a "big three" of their own—Pujols, Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle. This team already has the biggest buzz around the league, and adding Pujols would just put them over the top.
A lineup featuring Pujols, Reyes and Hanley Ramirez might finally put an end to the death grip the Philadelphia Phillies have on top of the NL East standings.
Pujols already has all the hardware and accolades to solidify the greatness of his career, and going to play for a team like this would allow him to have fun and still maintain a high level of success.
Needless to say, Albert Pujols is a great fit for any team in Major League Baseball, whether they need him or not.
He has been the most consistent player in all of baseball since he entered the league in 2001, and he should continue to dominate until he decides its time to call it quits.
So, if you're not really a hockey fan and are sick of hearing about the developments at Penn State, following the Pujols trail should fill the hole of making fun of LeBron's disappearing hairline this winter.