Predicting Free Agency: Albert Pujols
Pujols will be playing in the World Series Game 1 this evening, but most fans are already starting to wonder where the MLB’s best player is likely to end up. In my opinion, there are once again, three teams that have the best shot to sign the slugger, and we will go through them from 1-3, with 1 being the best chance to get him. Without further adieu, let’s get started.
1. St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals are the clear-cut favorite to re-sign Pujols. The only way I could see him heading elsewhere, is if the Cardinals are not willing to give him the kind of money that he is looking for, and they are so reluctant to make a deal with him and give in to the kind of demands he’ll have, that they give him their top offer and tell him to either accept it or walk. St. Louis isn’t stupid. They know that without Pujols, their team is really not that good. Sure, they’d still compete for the NL Wild-Card spot, but there would be absolutely no chance that a World Series would be coming their way.
Why do I give them the best shot to sign him? Well, first off he loves it in St. Louis. The fans are the best in baseball, and he’s the man there in one of the best baseball cities in the country. Also, he’s got a lot of close friends as teammates, and he’s getting paid a good amount. They have so much protection for him in guys like Matt Holliday, Freese, and more, that he knows most opposing pitchers are going to have a hard time being able to pitch around him, or even intentionally walk him, due to the other threats that they have coming up behind him.
In my opinion, there is about a 90% chance he remains with the St. Louis Cardinals on a long-term contract.
2. Chicago Cubs
The Cardinals’ rival, the Chicago Cubs are second on my list for Pujols’ services. With the addition of new GM Theo Epstein, you know that the Cubs are going to be fairly aggressive on the free agent wire, and Pujols is one of those guys that Epstein is known to covet. Pujols has already stated that Epstein is one of his favorite GM’s, and a great overall person both in and out of baseball. That being said, that’s definitely not enough to net Pujols for the Cubs. Chicago will have the kind of money to offer that he’ll be looking for, and will be more than happy to give him that kind of contract.
The fans in Chicago are very similar to what Pujols is playing in front of right now in St. Louis. I think playing for a franchise that has the prestige of the Cubs, and in a stadium like Wrigley Field would definitely be a draw. That being said, I just don’t see Chicago being able to pry him away from St. Louis.
I give them about an 8% of getting him away from their arch-rival Cardinals.
3. Miami Marlins
Ozzie Guillen has been busy since being hired as the Marlins’ new manager. He has already started trying to recruit Carlos Zambrano, Aramis Ramirez, and yes, he has given Pujols a couple phone calls. Why would Pujols even consider going to play for a struggling franchise like the Marlins? Well, they’re off to a brand new start, with a brand new area of fans to play in front of. They have something exciting going switching up practically everything that the franchise has been for the last few years. Ozzie Guillen is an exciting manager to play for, and the Marlins apparently are willing to open up their bank account to bring a winning season this coming year.
They’re the third team that I see him actually seriously considering, but in the end they don’t have enough to offer. They have a talented roster, but just haven’t been able to put that talent together to win baseball games. That’s a major problem, and he’ll see two places that he could go, and play in front of better fans, probably for more money, and have a better chance to recruit.
The Marlins get the other 2% of a chance to sign him. It’s just not going to happen, no matter what Miami tries to do to entice him to join their club.
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