Pujols and the Angels reached an agreement to a 10-year, $250 million contract early Thursday morning. The two-time World Series champion and three-time National League MVP will now play for the Halos after spending his entire 11-year career as a St. Louis Cardinal.
Unfortunately for St. Louis, they have lost a baseball icon. But this is no time to weep in St. Louis.
With their best player going elsewhere, the Cardinals must address the gaping hole left by Big Albert. Here are some options for the Cards in their search for a new first baseman.
Prince Fielder will obviously be the player that will garner much attention after the Pujols signing. He can hit for power, he can hit for average and his glove isn't that bad. He's no Albert Pujols, nobody is. But he is a top-notch talent and certainly the best player on the market.
Fielder is 27 years old, having yet to hit his prime. Signing Fielder would be a great move for the Cards. He won't cost as much as Pujols would have and the St. Louis front office shouldn't hesitate to give him at least seven years.
This isn't exactly appealing, but Derrek Lee could come at a nice price for St. Louis.
Lee, once considered one of the game's top first baseman, can still swing it and can still field his position just as good as any other first baseman. Like Fielder and Pujols, Lee can certainly hit for power. His batting average has dipped a bit, but he is still a legitimate threat on offense.
Carlos Pena is perhaps another option for St. Louis to look into. We know what kind of player he is and we know what we'll get from Pena every season.
Pena is a guy with legitimate power that'll reach base very often. He's great on defense and will pick up many of his infielders with his glove. Pena, however, does not swing the bat at a very efficient rate. He always has more than his fair share of strikeouts and will always end up hitting at a clip of .240 or lower.
Pena can be a good investment for St. Louis, but he won't come close to the production Pujols consistently gave the team.
Here's an interesting twist. With Albert Pujols signed through the next 10 years, the Angels now have a surplus of talented first baseman.
Along with Albert, the Angels are currently carrying Kendrys Morales and Mark Trumbo at first base. This should not last long, however. Morales and Trumbo are much too good to be used in a role outside of the starting first baseman.
Perhaps the Cards can ask a favor from the Angels, being that they pretty much stole their franchise's most prolific player.
If a trade does go down, expect Morales to be shipped rather than Trumbo. Trumbo's rookie campaign in 2011 was nothing short of impressive and the Angels would much rather hold onto a younger talent than an injured one in Morales.
Maybe the Cards don't have to look elsewhere for a new first baseman. Perhaps they already have their replacement in the rejuvenated Lance Berkman.
Berkman has shown he can still swing the bat for both power and average. He hits from both sides of the plate and his value for St. Louis in 2011 couldn't be overstated.
Lance's age, however, could be a concern. He isn't exactly nimble and won't give the team an incredible glove at first. Berkman could be a short-term fix for the Cards, but he isn't the guy to bank on.