Prospective Pujols' Suitors

With the trade of Adrian Gonzalez to the Boston Red Sox, the Cardinals can successfully eliminate a possible team that will sign Albert Pujols assuming their long term deal gets done.  I'm of the opinion the Cardinals will get him for less than $30 million because of a lack of a serious threat on the market.  Think of it like this: What team would give Pujols a $30 million dollar contract?

That's where I get the "You don't think any other team would want the best player in the game" which is bullshit because that's not at all how free agency works.  You don't see a player you like and shell up the cash necessary most of the time.  Other factors are present including your current player at that position, your payroll, the price, and your record.  

So here is where I will try to find legitimate candidates to threaten the Cardinals in the bidding of Albert Pujols.  And remember that it's not because a team doesn't want him, it's because common sense dictates to not go after him.

New York Yankees

Likelihood to add on $30 million of payroll (on a 1-10 scale)* - 10

Current 1B situation - covered for next six years at $22.5 million

Future 1B options?** - Teixiera

Comment: As much as everyone loves to throw the Yankees in as a possibility, they aren't really a threat.  There is no way they sign Pujols when they have a heavily priced first baseman already.  It's also ridiculously dumb to sign Pujols as a DH.

Verdict - Not a chance

Boston Red Sox

Likelihood to add on $30 million of payroll - 9

Current 1B situation - Adrian Gonzalez

Future 1B options? - Gonzalez?

Comment: Trading and signing Gonzalez would definitely eliminate them (I think people will accept this yet still think the Yankees are a threat which makes me laugh a little)

Verdict Not A Chance

Toronto Blue Jays

Likelihood to add on $30 million of payroll - 7

Current 1B situation - unknown

Future 1B options? - Jose Bautista in the short team I guess; David Cooper, the sixth rated prospect (and 10th on HBT) on the Jays by John Sickels (posted .257/.327/.442 line)

Comment: I put their likelihood because they literally have the payroll to do it with only $39.2 million committed last year with BJ Ryans, Roy Halladay, Edwin Encarnacion, Scott Downs, and Lyle Overbay off the payroll (that's $33.2 million for 4.5 WAR) and even less in 2012.  They have no first baseman for 2011 and beyond and David Cooper doesn't have good enough numbers to scare them way from signing Pujols.  

Verdict - Threat

Tampa Bay Rays

Likelihood to add on $30 million of payroll - 1.5

Current 1B situation - unknown

Future 1B options? - Unless they move someone to 1B, they lack prospects here

Comment: Even though their payroll was $72 million last year and this year they only have $12 million signed so far, there is little chance that this team mortgages its future with $30 million for the next five or so years.

Verdict - Not a Chance

Baltimore Orioles

Likelihood to Add on $30 million of payroll - 4

Current 1B situation - unknown

Future 1B options? - Joseph Mahoney, 23-years-old, had a .922 OPS at AA

Comment: Something tells me that even if Baltimore did have the money, Albert wouldn't answer their phone calls.

Verdict - Not a Chance

Chicago White Sox

Likelihood to Add on $30 million of payroll - 6

Current 1B Situation - unknown [Konerko for next three years]

Future 1B options? - Dayan Viciedo (.801 OPS in AAA at 21) or Tyler Flowers (bat doesn't seem good enough for 1B though)

Comment:I have a feeling they either re-sign Konerko or they sign a free agent first baseman for multiple years which should eliminate Albert. [Update - White Sox sign Konerko to 3 year, $37.5 million deal)

Verdict - Somewhat threatening [New - Not a chance]

Minnesota Twins

Likelihood to Add on $30 million of payroll - 3

Current 1B situation - Justin Morneau

Future 1B options? - Morneau through 2013

Comment: They are the Twins and already have two huge contracts so they are at the bottom of my "worried" list

Verdict - Not a Chance

Detroit Tigers

Likelihood to Add on $30 million of payroll - 7

Current 1B situation - Miguel Cabrera

Future 1B options? - Cabrera through 2015

Comment: Tigers are actually a team I could see doing this if they didn't already have a potential Hall-of-Famer there 

Verdict - Not A Chance

Cleveland Indians

Likelihood to Add on $30 million of payroll - 1

Current 1B situation - Matt Laporta/Michael Brantley 

Future 1B options? - Laporta/Brantley

Comment: The Indians are in a rebuilding mode so they aren't getting Pujols

Verdict - Not a Chance

Kansas City Royals

Likelihood to Add on $30 million of payroll - 3

Current 1B situation - Billy Butler

Future 1B situation? - Kila Ka'aihue/Eric Hosmer (.980 OPS in AAA at 20-years-old)

Comment: Not only do they have a young semi-good first baseman there now, but they have a stud prospect waiting in the wings.  

Verdict - Not a chance

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (going for the "technical term" here)

Likelihood to Add on $30 million of payroll - 4

Current 1B situation - Kendry Morales (.924 OPS as a 26-year-old in '09; injured last season)

Future 1B situation? - Morales, while not signed, has three arbitration years left

Comment: They already have $80 million locked up in 2011 (highest payroll last few years has been $121 million) and half of their players are in the middle of arbitration (hence expect their payroll to shoot up from multiple arbitration deals)  Plus Morales is still really cheap and young.

Verdict - Not a Chance [Update: I'm convinced - Threat - Comments contain reasoning]

Texas Rangers

Likelihood to Add on $30 million of payroll - 9 (call it the Nolan Ryan factor)

Current 1B situation - David Murphy (.803 OPS)/Mitch Moreland (.833 OPS in limited time)

Future 1B situation? - Moreland started the majority of the playoffs so you'd have to think he's the favorite - he also has five years of team control left - Chris Davis, but he's struggled

Comment: I think they will re-sign Lee but if they don't, I'm a little worried.

Verdict - Somewhat Threatening (I think it rides on if they get Lee)

Seattle Mariners

Likelihood to Add on $30 million of payroll - 3.5

Current 1B situation - Casey Kotchman

Future 1B situation? - Justin Smoak (.902 OPS in AAA as a 23-year-old)

Comment: The Mariners suck right now and they have a future first baseman in their farm so I think the odds they get Pujols are the same odds that they become the sixth best organization next year, record-wise.

 Verdict - Not a chance

Oakland Athletics 

Likelihood to Add on $30 million of payroll - 1

Current 1B situation - Daric Barton (shoots face off)

Future 1B situation? - Barton still has four years of team control (don't shoot the messenger) and they also have Chris Carter, 23-years-old in AAA slugging .529 and OPs'ing .894

Comment: This is the A's we are talking about here.  They kind of have a rep for being cheap bastards.  (They also have a rep for screwing people over in trades so...)

Verdict - Not a chance

Los Angeles Dodgers

Likelihood to Add on $30 million of payroll - 7 (would be higher if not for McCourt dispute)

Current 1B situation - James Loney - been worth 6.4 fWAR in five years something Albert has gotten more than in a single season all but once in his career

Future 1B situation? - After Loney, they have no in-house options and Loney isn't very good to begin with

Comment: All of a sudden I feel evil for rooting for the McCourt case to not settle for at least another... oh... year and half... otherwise we got ourselves a pretty legitimate threat in my opinion

Verdict - Threat

San Fransico Giants

Likelihood to Add on $30 million of payroll - 5

Current 1B situation - Aubrey Huff - 2 years, 22 million

Future 1B options? - Brandon Belt (.956 OPS at AAA at 22-years-old)

Comment: I never thought I'd say this but I think Aubrey Huff may prevent the Giants from getting Pujols.  Bad logic?  Yes?  They also have a young stud waiting...

Verdict - Somewhat Threatening 

San Diego Padres

Likelihood to Add on $30 million of payroll - 2

Current 1B situation - unknown/Kyle Blanks, who will miss early part of season

Future 1B option? - Blanks is young and cheap

Comment: They just (unofficially) traded away Adrian Gonzalez for money problems; I'm thinking if they had or wanted to use the money, then they'd have kept him.

Verdict - Not a Threat

Colorado Rockies

Likelihood to Add on $30 million - 5

Current 1B situation - Todd Helton, who is getting paid $10 million next year

Future 1B option? - Helton, through 2013

Comment: They just signed a huge deal and are in the back ends of another huge deal so I'm thinking no.

Verdict - Not a Threat

Arizona Diamondbacks

Likelihood to Add on $30 million - 3

Current 1B situation - unknown

Future 1B option? - Brandon Allen, 3rd highest rated player in system according to John Sickels, who had .933 OPS

Comment: They are trying to supposedly shop the very cheap and affordable Justin Upton which makes no sense, but indicates they are rebuilding (the first step to rebuilding is to trade affordable players!)

Verdict - Not a Threat

Philadelphia Phillies

Two words - Ryan Howard... Now excuse me while I go laugh my ass off

Verdict - If  you saw Phillies and didn't skip this, then I'm not sure what to think of you... oh and not a chance

New York Mets

Likelihood to Add on $30 million -  8

Current 1B situation - Ike Davis, 3.4 fWAR player also last year

Future 1B option? - Davis! for five more years

Comment: I know the Mets are thrown around here as a viable option, but they have Ike Davis, who as a rookie at 23-years-old, was worth 3.4 fWAR.... as a rookie... with five years of team control... they have a smart GM now so I think they'll think "Hey why don't we go after a position we... ya know... need?"

Verdict - Not a chance 

Washington Nationals

Likelihood to Add on $30 million - 5

Current 1B situation - unknown

Future 1B option? - Chris Marrero, at 21-years-old in AA, hit .294/.350/.450

Comment - After the Jayson Werth contract, I have no idea what to think of the Nationals

Verdict - Somewhat Threatening

Florida Marlins

Two words - Larry Beinfest

Verdict - Not a chance

Atlanta Braves

Likelihood to Add on $30 million to payroll - 5.5

Current 1B situation - unknown

Future 1B option? - Freddie Freeman - #32 rated player overall by BA - batted .319/.378/.521 in AAA - at 21 years-old

Comment: When researching this, I didn't know they had a player like Freeman, so that alters them as a serious threat for me.

Verdict - Somewhat Threatening

Chicago Cubs

Likelihood to Add on $30 million of payroll - 6

Current 1B situation  - Micah Hoffpauir?

Future 1B option? - Micah Hoffpauir?

Comment: It scares me that they literally have no replacement currently for a first baseman unless they move someone out of position, but then again - Pujols to the Cubs?  Really...?

Verdict - Somewhat threatening

Pittsburgh Pirates 

Let's just skip to the verdict on this one

Verdict - Not a chance

Milwaukee Brewers

Likelihood to Add on $30 million of payroll - 4

Current 1B situation - unknown

Future 1B options? - ummm... they should try Ryan Braun there....

Comment: If they could sign Albert Pujols, then they'd just re-sign Prince Fielder and if they don't sign Fielder, then they won't sign Pujols 

Verdict - Not a chance

Houston Astros

Likelihood to Add on $30 million of payroll - 2

Current 1B situation - Brett Wallace and Carlos Lee (hehe)

Future 1B options? - Well Wallace, but he kind of sucked last year so they could change it up

Comment: If I'm Pujols, I don't see the appeal anyway and the Astros are in rebuilding mode and paying people $30 million contracts doesn't really fit that plan

Verdict - Not a Chance

Cincinnati Reds

Joey Votto

Verdict - Not a chance

Categorizing "No Chance"

Highly paid, franchise players - Yankees (Teixiera), Red Sox (Gonzalez), Twins (Morneau), Tigers (Cabera), Phillies (Howard), Rockies (Helton)

I can pretty much say without a doubt all of these teams, barring Gonzalez somehow not going to the Sox, are not getting Pujols next year.

Rebuilding/Suckage - Orioles, Mariners, Diamondbacks, Pirates, Astros, Brewers, Indians

I can pretty much say that Pujols will not sign with any of these teams even if they bothered to call him.

Payroll - Rays, Athletics, Padres, Marlins

None of these teams have signed a player to $20 million much less $30 million

Cheap, cost-controlled player - Royals, Angels, Mets, Reds, [Mariners]

Some of you would dispute Angels and Mets, but I don't think they try and improve a position they are already good and cheap at.

The Rest

That leaves eight teams if you are counting.  The Blue Jays, White Sox, Rangers, Dodgers, Giants, Nationals, Braves, and Cubs. 

Would Pujols really want to leave the comfy confines of the NL Central to go play in the AL East where he may play on the fourth best team in the division at worst?  Also, Toronto doesn't exactly fit the profile of a team who would go out and sign Pujols for $30 million even if they have the money.  Also not to be discounted, he'd be playing in Canada with lesser crowds, colder weather, and farther away from home.  Some of these things could be solved with Pujols on the team though.

The White Sox fit the profile of a GM who would go out and sign Pujols.  Also, Chicago is pretty close to where he actually lives.  However, 2010-2011 off-season will determine how this plays out.  I believe that the Sox will sign their first baseman through free agency this off-season (and I believe for more than a one year deal) so it remains to be seen whether or not they are actually a threat.

If the Rangers sign Cliff Lee, I think that puts them into the "Not a Chance," but that's just me.  If they don't sign Lee, then they move strictly into Threat.  Nolan Ryan strikes me as an owner who would tell the GM to sign Pujols at whatever cost.

The Dodgers have a little bit of a problem with ownership so here is yet another team that could be determined soon by other factors.  In the midst of the McCourts divorce, I don't think the Dodgers are a legitimate threat to sign Pujols.  If it's settled and the pockets come out, then I think they might sign him.  They have Loney for next year and only next year likely.  I don't think they'd have a problem saying sayonara to Loney and hello to Pujols.

The Giants just signed Aubrey Huff to a 2 year, $22 million deal and while that should in no way impact the signing of Albert Pujols, I think it does.  Having Huff in '12 could prevent them from getting Pujols if available.  Huff could also suck and they just release him.  We are dealing with Sabean so that's why I still think they are somewhat of a threat because honestly: Who knows what the fuck he's going to do?

I doubt the Nationals would have two huge contracts signed even though Rizzo has the cajones to do it.  I just don't think they will when they will have to pay Strasburg, Storen, etc. eventually.

The Braves have Freddie Freeman and they seem like the conservative type more so than the sign the best free agent available type.  I think they will probably just hope for the best with Freeman.

The Cubs are only a threat if Pujols gets pissed at the Cardinals and wants to find the best way to get back at them.  I don't see this happening because everyone involved is pretty rational, but there is always a small chance.  Again, Pujols probably doesn't want to put himself in the shithole that is the Cubs.

On second thought, the Jays aren't as much of a threat as I originally thought just because of factors outside of their  control.  The Nationals are also unlikely to put two heavy burdens on their payroll.  The Cubs are simply a threat because they will spend money.  All three teams are barely above the not a chance for me.

If everything works out perfect and it never does then, Freeman explodes for the Braves (then the Braves fit under "cheap, cost-controlled player in "Not A Chance"), Huff comes close to 2010 production (convincing Sabean Huff is good enough), the McCourts' divorce completely devastates their franchise, Rangers sign Cliff Lee, and the Sox sign Prince Fielder to a lengthy contract - which reminds me.  Fielder and Carlos Pena (if the Rays let him walk) will take off two of these serious threats just like Gonzalez did.

As a final word, I am not really concerned about this situation.  First off, an extension this off-season is likely making this post for the most part moot.  So I do hope this post does become moot.  If not, I just find it hard to believe another team would give him enough money to leave the Cardinals.  This is sort of like the Jeter situation.  The fan base will make the front office cave into Pujols' demands which is why I hope we sign this off-season so we have some LEVERAGE (although either way Pujols holds pretty much all of the leverage because his stats are so damn good)


*Likelihood to add on $30 million of payroll - In this case, I just meant in general not counting the position.  What are the odds they would add up to $30 million worth of players through free agency?  

**Who will be the 1B for up to five years from now if Pujols isn't added?  Prospects for teams that don't have first baseman either under contract or under team control

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