Question of the Day: Where will Albert Pujols play in 2012? [Updated]
Writers from around Tribune Co. weigh in on the St. Louis Cardinals star first baseman, whose contract is set to expire after the 2011 season. Check back throughout the day for more responses, and feel free to leave a comment of your own.
Peter Schmuck, Baltimore Sun
Stand by for months of Albert angst in St. Louis and rampant free-agent speculation in each of Major League Baseball's large-market cities ... and it will all be much ado about nothing.
If he isn't a Cardinal in 2012, my well-regarded Tribune Co. colleagues, I will come over and wax your cars.
The Cardinals will keep him if they have to tie him to a chair and bring in a cult deprogrammer to turn him against his agent, but that probably won't be necessary. He knows the value of staying with one team for his entire career, and the Cardinals know that he's worth almost whatever they have to pay to keep him.
Frankly, I don't even believe that Pujols and the team will honor their agreement to suspend negotiations until after the season. The compromise will be nine years for $253 million. How's that for being specific?
[Updated at 9:56 a.m.:
Phil Rogers, Chicago Tribune
Albert Pujols’ professional stance suggests he’s still hoping to stay in St. Louis, but the math simply doesn’t work. A team in baseball’s fourth smallest market can’t pay market value for its best player and put a good team around him.
Despite talk about the Cubs and the exotic destination of Kansas City, I still see him with one of baseball’s two heaviest spenders -– the Red Sox and Yankees. He’s not as blocked by Adrian Gonzalez and Mark Teixeira as you’d think, not with the DH spot as a possibility. Nothing that the Ricketts’ ownership group has done makes me think the Cubs want to play at the big-money table.
I’ll call it Yankees, who will be looking for the most impactful move possible if CC Sabathia opts out.]
[Updated at 11:56 a.m.:
Keith Groller, the Morning Call
St. Louis is still the front-runner as Albert Pujols' home address for 2012, although the Cardinals have put only a halfhearted effort into securing their superstar so far.
If reports are accurate that the Cardinals "only" offered him between $19 and $23 million per season, you wonder if they felt any urgency in getting this done now. Ownership seems content to see how 2011 plays out. Pujols has shown some wear and tear, and while his seasonal numbers remain superb, he doesn't qualify as Mr. October, or even Mr. September. St. Louis, remember, hasn't won a postseason game since the 2006 World Series.
So, in reality, the pressure is on Pujols to deliver another set of eye-popping numbers to justify the A-Rod-type deal he seeks. It'll be interesting to see if he can handle the daily scrutiny in 2011 that he'd receive in New York City every day for the rest of his career.]
[Updated at 12:32 a.m.:
Bill Shaikin, Los Angeles Times
The best bet probably remains St. Louis, once Pujols has a chance to test the market and the Cardinals have the chance to up their bid. He is not thirsting to leave, and the Cardinals are well aware there is no replacing him.
You never can rule out the New York Yankees or Boston Red Sox, although we're betting Pujols is too proud to DH behind Mark Teixeira or Adrian Gonzalez. The Yankees' pitching is so shallow and their wallet so deep that they could sign Pujols and swallow some of Teixiera's salary in trading him for a pitcher, but Scott Boras -- the agent for Teixeira -- might ask for some inducement for his client.
If Pujols really is out to get a record-setting deal -- and he already has a championship ring, remember -- watch out for the Washington Nationals. The Nats have money to spend. They were the high bidders for Teixeira, and they blew away other teams by signing Jayson Werth for $126 million. And, with the Philadelphia Phillies getting old in a hurry and the mess that is the New York Mets, a lineup with Pujols, Werth, Ryan Zimmerman and Bryce Harper and a pitching staff that starts with Stephen Strasburg and ends with Drew Storen could form the core of a contender.]
Photo: Albert Pujols. Credit: Chris Lee / MCT