Baseball fans, bloggers, reporters and pundits (and those close to them that are forced to suffer through boring conversations about this topic) have been waiting for the anticlimacticness of this day for several weeks now, as Albert Pujols prepares to end all negotiations surrounding a long term contract extension with the St. Louis Cardinals today.
Last evening word broke that the Cardinals had prepared an eight year deal for Pujols that would pay him below $30 million annually. The rumour was later crushed by Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports who quoted the Pujols camp as calling it, “inaccurate, reckless and outrageous.” Whoa horsey! Sounds as though the Pujols camp might be a little on edge.
Meanwhile, Scott Miller at CBS Sports quotes sources as saying that there is zero momentum moving toward a deal being reached between St. Louis and Pujols. Even though John Mozeliak and Pujols’ agent, Dan Lozano, have been in constant contact, the most hopeful synopsis of the likelihood of a deal refers to it still having a pulse, a term normally reserved for someone on life support.
Pujols, at one point, was reportedly interested in taking a piece of the team as part of his deal with the Cardinals, but St. Louis was apparently uninterested in dealing with the complications that such terms would involve.
As all signs point to a deal not getting done, the speculation over where the best player in baseball is going to end up has already begun. Even though Pujols has claimed that he would refuse a trade, Ken Rosenthal speculated at the possibility of him being moved to the Yankees in exchange for Mark Teixeira. There’s no harm in taking a crack at this, and while Rosenthal correctly points out that both teams would be interested in such a trade, I think he may be underestimating the roadblocks standing in the way of Teixeira accepting a move from New York to St. Louis.
Teixeira would be a tougher sell. He chose the Yankees as a free agent. He probably would not want to leave. And he, too, is armed with a no-trade clause.
For Teixeira to even consider a deal, he would need to be, uh, properly recognized. As in properly compensated. As in extended, perhaps at least two more years at some monster number, say $27 million per year.
Boras, who also represents the Cardinals’ other big-money slugger, left fielder Matt Holliday, could “work” with the Cardinals to defer part of Holliday’s contract; Holliday already has said in an interview with ESPN Radio he would defer money for Pujols.
Rosenthal’s colleague at FOX Sports, Mark Kriegel, wonders what the market will bear for Albert Pujols, claiming that he’s being preposterous if he thinks he get $30 million a year, even if he is better than Alex Rodriguez, as his agent is suggesting.
I don’t blame Lozano for making this argument. It’s his job. And while it might convince the seamheads, as a matter of economics, it’s just plain ignorant.
The market is what the market is now. For example, on Feb. 19, 2004, when Pujols signed his contract extension, Citigroup was selling for $49.12 a share. On Monday, it closed at $4.91. There goes your free market.
I suppose we all are quite ignorant. I didn’t realize that the price of Citigroup’s stock had such a drastic impact on what baseball owners are willing to pay the best players in baseball. If Kriegel has made this point after last offseason it might have some merit, but suggesting it after the massive contracts that were doled out this winter makes for an argument about as tractionless as a curling shoe.
Kriegel goes on to suggest that comparing Rodriguez with Pujols is apples and oranges.
Also, it’s worth reminding people that Rodriguez was actually a free agent — not, like Pujols, a season removed — when he got his current contract. The deal called for 10 more years at $275 million and another $30 million payable as Rodriguez made his way to the all-time home run mark. The agreement was an attempt to monetize the most famous record in sports. But now, a couple of years after the news that Rodriguez tested positive for steroids, the record itself has been devalued. In essence, those home runs don’t have the value they did when A-Rod signed in 2007.
I’m not sure exactly how that ridiculous commentary on the failings of the Rodriguez contract supports his claim that that the Pujols situation is drastically different, but what difference does it make if Pujols is or isn’t a free agent? The point is that if he refuses a deal with the Cardinals, he will become one anyway.
If I recall correctly, there weren’t a whole lot of teams knocking on Rodriguez’s door when he became a “free agent” prior to the 2008 season. At least, there wasn’t nearly as much interest as there is in Pujols prior to his potential free agency.
MLB Trade Rumors tracks all of the circling sharks in their latest on Pujols. They sort all MLB teams into five separate categories.
The No-Hopers: Padres, Pirates, Indians, Royals, Diamondbacks, Astros, Rays, Marlins, Rockies, Phillies, Brewers, White Sox, Athletics, Tigers and Reds.
The Longshots: Mets, Dodgers, Orioles, Mariners and Braves.
The You Never Knows: Yankees and Red Sox.
The Darkhorses: Blue Jays and Giants.
The Top Contenders: Rangers, Angels, Nationals, Cubs and Cardinals.
But no matter where Pujols ends up or what he ends up getting paid, his next contract has already inspired the greatest sports parody of thrash metal ever produced.