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Cardinals’ offer to Albert Pujols likely to remain in the range of $22 million per year

Sep 25, 2011, 11:35 AM EDT

Albert Pujols Getty Images

The Cardinals tried to lock up first baseman Albert Pujols last offseason with a nine-year offer worth between $22 million and $22.5 million annually.

Since the day that proposal was rejected by Pujols and his agent Dan Lozano, talks have not restarted. But they will in early November, when baseball’s best hitter will be just steps away from free agency.

Will the Cardinals’ front office change its tune? Will the offer improve? And which of MLB’s other 29 teams are going to be making bids?

Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has consistently provided the most accurate details on the matter, and ran a column Saturday with a couple of notes on the looming negotiations.

  • The Cardinals are “currently inclined” to remain within the salary framework of the original offer ($22M-$22.5M annually) and may even “tighten” its length.
  • That stance could change if another team makes a better bid.
  • The Cubs, Rangers, Angels, Marlins and Nationals are currently being “cited” as the other potential suitors.

In other words, it’s going to be a lot like every other big-time free agent sweepstakes. If the Cards are outbid, they’ll up the ante. But they’re not going to stretch their payroll without a good reason. And with the Yankees and Red Sox likely sitting this one out, perhaps a $200 million deal will actually do the trick.

Keep in mind that Ryan Howard, a .274/.368/.560 career hitter and poor defender, is set to earn $25 million a year between 2014 and 2016. Pujols is a .329/.421/.618 career batter and a worthy two-time Gold Glover.

  1. proudlycanadian - Sep 25, 2011 at 11:57 AM

    9 years is much too long. He will not be a top tier player for that long. He is a fool to reject that offer.

    • paperlions - Sep 25, 2011 at 12:04 PM

      Not if another team will offer more….and it only takes one.

    • dailyrev - Sep 25, 2011 at 2:08 PM

      Pulse gradually returning for you now (at 2PM Sunday)? As of this moment, JB’s back in the dugout, apparently not seriously damaged.

  2. paperlions - Sep 25, 2011 at 12:07 PM

    The problem with citing the Howard deal is that it is so obviously a horrible deal for the Phillies: “the Phillies way over-paid a guy and based on that horrible mistake we’d like you to pay more than you are otherwise inclined to pay”….yeah, that is a convincing negotiating stance.

    If the Cardinals offer 9 years with an average of $22M/year that pays more at the beginning and slowly decreases after the first 4 years….that would be a decent deal for both sides, I think.

  3. cur68 - Sep 25, 2011 at 12:10 PM

    What, ultimately, does this boil down to; is Ryan Howard over-paid @ 25mil and Pujols undervalued @ 22mil/year? This is the kind of question that will rile some people, if the post is read to the bitter end.

    I think taking that 22mil/season is perfectly reasonable. If Pujols wants to get to the post season and thence to the WS then he needs to think of the teams resources to put good players around him. Even 22mil limits what the team can do to improve the roster. One manager can only make so many in-game changes to keep a line-up competitive, you know. Eventually one might have to play Corey Patterson in a key spot in a key part of the game if one has a limited roster to select from. That kind of thing can cost a game.

    Arguably Howard’s enormous contract cripples the future of that franchise and will limit the teams ability to put good players on the roster. Considering the decline that comes with age, the ballooning team payroll, and Phat Al’s superior numbers, it’s likely that the answer to the initial question is that Howard is overpaid as compared to Pujols, if Pujols takes the 22mil. Which he should.

    • mikedi33 - Sep 25, 2011 at 1:14 PM

      Yes, Ryan Howard is getting paid alot of money but if you add his 5 year upcoming contract to his past 3 years salary it works out to $181 million over 8 years. Mark Teireira signed for $180 million for 8 years. I would take Howard over Teireira anyday. Howard was paid market value. There is no way Albert signs for $22 million.

      • presidentmiraflores - Sep 25, 2011 at 4:14 PM

        Who is this Mark Teireira of whom you speak?

  4. dailyrev - Sep 25, 2011 at 12:17 PM

    What’s missing from the discussion is What Prince Gets. I was obviously joking in my other comments from earlier in the season about the imaginary conversations between them when one of them gets on 1b in a Brews-Cards series, but all seriousness aside, it’s a factor.

    • paperlions - Sep 25, 2011 at 7:18 PM

      I don’t think Fielder is relevant either…at least, he shouldn’t be because his best season is still not as good as Pujols’ average season…plus Fielder has a body type and skill set that doesn’t age nearly as well as that of Pujols.

      To those that insist on saying silly things like, Player X is making $180M over 8 years, so there is no way Pujols signs for $22. Roy Halladay signed for 3 yrs at $20M per, less than CC or Santana make, and only a little more than Zito, Zambrano, and Becket (all of whom were signed before Halladay). The contracts of other players do not set the bar for future contracts….especially when they are bad deals for the team.

  5. tom-a-hawk - Sep 25, 2011 at 12:38 PM

    uh….he is no longer “baseball’s best hitter”. I think Matt Kemp has taken over that role.

    • Jeremiah Graves - Sep 25, 2011 at 1:04 PM

      …for real?

      One great season doesn’t make him baseball’s best hitter. We all saw him take a huge step backward after his last breakout season in 2009. Give it awhile before we go passing Albert’s torch to anyone.

  6. buddygarrity - Sep 25, 2011 at 12:39 PM

    Marlins – c’mon now

  7. atwatercrushesokoye - Sep 25, 2011 at 7:33 PM

    Pujols has been an incredible player for a long time, but he’s on the wrong side of 30 and this next contract will likely fall under the laws of diminishing returns. The Cardinals will have to find a balance between paying him for what he’s done and paying him for what he will produce.

    I’m not sure if Pujols would go for it but the smart play is probably giving him a higher yearly salary ($27 million) for less years (4-5)

    • irishjackmp - Sep 25, 2011 at 9:59 PM

      I agree with you that with him being on the wrong side of thirty and diminishing returns issue but I strongly disagree with;

      “The Cardinals will have to find a balance between paying him for what he’s done and paying him for what he will produce”

      No, they don’t. Contracts aren’t for past performance… that’s what too many players don’t get. This is about expected future performance. It’s not about the type of player Pujols was pre 2011 but rather what type of player he will be over the next decade… and he will almost certainly be a diminishing one. The steroid era is over so the days of seeing players put up better numbers in their mid thirties (Bonds) is over. Look at ARod. Still a very good player, but his production is diminishing and he is spending more and more time on the DL. I don’t think there is anyone who thinks the Yankees would do that deal again if given the chance

      Did the Cardinals get a good deal on his current contract? (7 yr/$100m) Yes, but keep in mind he got a chunk of that money to buy out some free agent years in order to get more money up front when he was still arbitration eligible so that wasn’t purely a free agent contract. I would no more expect a team to give a guy more money as a “thanks” for past production than I would expect a player to say “you know what? I really didn’t live up to my last contract, so, I’ll take less in my next deal”. It doesn’t happen. The Phils/Sox/Yankees could afford to have dead money on the latter years of a long term Pujols deal. A mid market team like the Cardinals can’t afford that.

      I think the Cubs have something like $35m between Soriano & Zambrno coming off the books in the next 12 months. Watch for the Cubs to overpay and then we can watch Albert stand in front of the cameras and utter the most annoying lie players tell…

      “This wasn’t about the money…”

  8. bigharold - Sep 25, 2011 at 8:01 PM

    “And with the Yankees and Red Sox likely sitting this one out,.. ”

    I doubt the RS will show much interest but the Yankees are another matter. Between Lackey and Crawford I don’t think the RS have much stomach for yet another big FA signing. On the other hand, it is a distinct possibility that the Yankees will sign him if he gets as far as FA. The Yankees have the resources and the track record for just this type of signing. Between 1B, 3B and the DH they could fit Pujols, Teixeia and A-Rod in nicely.

    The rest of baseball would hate it but it’s possible. And, Pujols will look good in pinstripes too.

  9. cintiphil - Sep 26, 2011 at 9:13 AM

    With our luck, Albert will stay in the NL central and continue to be a thorn in our side.

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