The Albert Pujols deal is going to be a huge stressor for the St. Louis Cardinals and their fans. This Albert Pujols deal could very well be the most important negotiating process the Cardinals have ever been through, maybe even more so than the ones with Curt Flood. These negotiations will dictate whether the best hitter in baseball remains with the Cardinals or if he ends up testing the free agent market in the 2012 baseball offseason.
On a day when manager Tony La Russa announced his 2011 Cardinals lineup, below the surface bubbles the prospects of when a new deal with Pujols is going to be struck. For those interested in how that lineup will look, La Russa plans on putting recently signed Lance Berkman in right field, which means that Matt Holliday will be in left field during the next season. This puts an end to one set of discussions within the Cardinals organization, a good decision by La Russa to get it settled way before spring training starts.
As for the Pujols-Cardinals discussions, there has not even been a hint from either the organization or its star player as to what the progression of those talks have yielded. If you ask any baseball analyst, they will tell you that if anyone deserves to be the highest paid player in baseball, it is Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols. How much he deserves to be paid is another issue, but it is certainly one the Cardinals front office and the agents for Pujols are discussing right now.
Pujols made the decision to set a timetable as to when a new deal needs to be signed, deciding that it was better to have things done by the beginning of the 2011 spring training in order to make sure that it didn’t become a distraction for the team. This is a good thing for him to have done, but at the same time it is going to make these next two months very stressful for the Cardinals and their fans as the clock ticks down.
Last season with the Cardinals, Pujols hit 42 home runs, drove in 118 runs, and had 103 walks. He ended up hitting .312 for the Cardinals, racking up yet another All Star season for the Cardinals. He proved he is one of the few players out there earning his contract, and the Cardinals have tried again to give him help in the 2011 lineup by signing free agent Lance Berkman. Now that the Cardinals have shown that they are serious about paying for a winning team, they are hoping Pujols will sign a nice extension.
The question now becomes how much Pujols is worth, and whether he will be the first player in baseball history to have an average salary of $30 million or more. It seems like he could really hold the franchise hostage, but now the Cardinals have to decide if $30 million for one player is worth more than splitting up that total for several free agents over the next few years.