Cardinals Unable to Reach Agreement With Albert Pujols on Long-Term Deal; Would the Phillies Be a Good Fit?

After he and the Cardinals were unable to agree on a long-term contract, Albert Pujols is now one year away from being the most sought-out free agent in the history of baseball.

Pujols apparently is seeking a contract in the range of 10 years, $300 million. The Cardinals made an offer for eight years, $200 million. That’s $25 million per year, a pretty lofty figure, but Pujols rejected the offer, citing money as the primary reason.

As of now, the largest contract ever signed in baseball is the 10-year, $275 million deal signed by Alex Rodriguez with the Yankees, breaking the previous record of 10 years, $252 million that A-Rod signed with the Texas Rangers.

A-Rod’s contract maxed out last year, as he earned $33 million for his performance in 2010, the highest single-season salary by a baseball player in major league history.

Pujols deserves every penny of any contract a team would offer.

As it stands now, a case could be made for Pujols as the greatest right-handed hitter the game has ever seen. He is the only player ever to post ten straight seasons with at least 30 home runs, 100 RBIs, and a .300 batting average – and these were Pujols’ FIRST ten seasons of his career. During that span, Pujols has added 62 extra wins to his team over what an average player would have accumulated, and he helped the Cardinals to a World Championship following the 2006 season.

Would the Phillies be a good fit for Pujols?

Pujols is a perennial MVP candidate. He’s a 40-homer guy every year. He’s a right-handed bat for a lineup that is severely lacking power, after Jayson Werth chased the money to D.C. And Pujols plays first base.

As of now, the Phillies have their first baseman, Ryan Howard, locked up for the next five years, as he enters the first year of a five-year, $125 million contract that sees Howard earning an average of $25 million per season.

Howard isn’t worth $25 million per year. He’s a phenomenal power hitter with a whole list of credentials to his name – one MVP award, two All-Star appearances, two home run titles, three RBI titles, and a World Series ring – but he’s nowhere near the complete player of Pujols, who is scheduled to make $16 million this year.

Last year, there were rumors of a Pujols for Howard trade. ESPN The Magazine’s Buster Olney reported that the Phillies and Cardinals were in the midst of discussions about swapping the two players.

Phillies’ GM Ruben Amaro acknowledged the rumor as a lie, saying there was absolutely no truth to it.

I wonder how the trade would look now.

Pujols has been the face of the Cardinals’ franchise, but roughly a quarter of a billion dollars is a LOT of money to pay to keep him around. Would it make more sense for the Cardinals to acquire Howard for half the cost?

I don’t know what kind of a trade would be necessary for this to happen. I don’t know if the Cardinals would trade the two straight up or if the Phillies would need to throw in a top prospect. I don’t know if the Phillies have any interest in it happening even at all.

Chase Utley and Pujols in the middle of the lineup would be pretty dangerous, although I’m not sure if the Phillies could pay whatever kind of a deal Pujols would want.

It’s interesting to think about though.

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