Time Running Out for Albert Pujols and Cardinals

Albert Pujols reportedly rejected the Cardinals latest contract offer on Sunday, setting up the Armageddon scenario that has been talked about this off season.

Tuesday is reported to be the deadline for a new contract to be signed, or Pujols has stated he will walk at the end of the 2011 season.

The rejection of today’s offer would seem to make inking a deal by Tuesday a long-shot.

Multiple reports state Pujols is demanding a 10-year deal in the $300 million range. It is widely speculated that Pujols wants a salary similar to that of Alex Rodriguez . The Yankees deal with Rodriguez can reach a $30 million per season average if he reaches certain performance thresholds.

A side-by-side comparison between Pujols and Rodriguez would suggest he has been a more productive hitter with less protection in the lineup the past 10 years. So it is easy to understand where Pujols would want to be compensated at a rate near that of Rodriguez.

But is it realistic for Pujols to expect a deal that exceeds the Rodriguez contract?

That is a tough question.  Imagine you produced better than another person, but were told by your employer you would not meet or exceed that person’s salary. That’s a tough pill to swallow.

Of course we all realize guys like Rodriguez and Pujols are not nine-to-five workers like most of us. They are supremely talented, ultra-competitive individuals creating tens of millions of dollars of value for their owners in a multi-billion dollar industry.

The big issue I see is this: How many teams can realistically pay one player $30 million per season and hope to be a contender year in and year out?

Both the Yankees and  Red Sox would be the most obvious deep-pocketed suitors for Pujols. But with rosters full of huge contracts you have to think even they have their limits.

Sure there are other large market teams like the Cubs, Phillies, Dodgers, Mets and Angels that will be mentioned if Pujols hits the free agent market. But a closer look casts doubt as to how many of those teams would be serious bidders for Pujols.

The Cubs are still licking their wounds for several bad contracts they have handed out the past few years, including Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Zambrano each earning upward of $20 million per season.

The Phillies broke the bank the past couple years with the addition of Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cliff Lee. Oh, and by the way, they have a first baseman named Ryan Howard signed to a long-term deal paying $25 million per season.

The Dodgers would likely be out with the continuing divorce saga and alleged cash flow problems of their owners, the McCourts.

The Mets would probably be out as they will likely be dealing with the fallout of their owners involvement with Bernie Madoff for the foreseeable future.

Rumors persist that they are seeking investors in the hopes of raising $250 million. And you can be sure the $250 million is not being raised to sign Albert Pujols.

The Angels would seem to be a logical candidate for Pujols. Especially after Angels owner, Arte Moreno said after last season he would spend what it takes to contend. He then proceeded to let big time free agents like Carl Crawford and Adrian Beltre slip through his fingers.

Multiple sources reported Moreno balked at the asking price for Crawford and Beltre ultimately losing out on them both thus taking huge heat from the Angels fan base.

Moreno’s solution to the heat was to take on the bloated contract of Vernon Wells from the Blue Jays.

If Moreno would not pay Adrian Beltre $96 million over 6-years, it’s doubtful he is going to pay Albert Pujols $300 million over 10 years

The biggest question facing the Cardinals or other potential suitors after the 2011 season is how much will a 40-year-old Pujols be worth in year nine or 10 of a $300 million deal?

An under-performing 40-year-old first baseman earning $30 million per season would be the biggest albatross in major league history.


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