"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

A Pujols Deferred

Albert Pujols said that he didn’t want to negotiate after spring training started because he didn’t want his expiring contract to be a distraction this season. Well, good luck with that.

The current frenzy will certainly die down, but I expect Pujols’ contract to come up early and often as the season goes on. And why wouldn’t it? It’s not every day that one of the best hitters in the history of baseball comes this close to free agency. I don’t know who Ken Rosenthal’s source on this is, but if he’s right, the Cards may have seriously lowballed Pujols:

As many people have pointed out, including Craig Calcaterra at Hardball Talk and Christina Kahrl at Baseball Prospectus, the lack of a deal at this artificially created “deadline” hardly means that there won’t be a deal at some point. Still, I was struck by the negativity of Bill DeWitt, the Cardinals Chairman, when asked if he thought there was still a chance Pujols signs with the Cards after this season:

“I think that’s hard to say at this point,” DeWitt said. “We tried last offseason, so maybe the third time will be the charm… We did make every effort. We started the process early and had good dialogue throughout. It wasn’t that we ran out of time, it’s just that we were unable to reach agreement.”

That may just be a negotiating ploy or a PR stance, but he didn’t sound hopeful.

I don’t feel like I have a very good grip on Albert Pujols’ personality. I’ve seen a lot of reporters say recently that he’s a good guy, and they would know better than me, but in my own (admittedly quite brief) personal experience, covering the 2006 NLCS, he was an abrasive jerk with the media. There’s no reason why St. Louis fans would, or should, care about that – watching him play baseball is a beautiful thing, and that’s what’s important there. I only bring it up because I wonder what impact his personality might have on these negotiations. There’s no obligation for him to take less money than he could get elsewhere to play in St. Louis, and few athletes do. But I wonder if he will insist on being the highest-paid player ever, and whether there’s any room for compromise.

It’s always nice when a great player is able to stay with a team for his whole career – but if Pujols gets cut loose, that’ll be fascinating to watch in its own right, and it’s hard not to feed the hype on this.


1 Mattpat11   ~  Feb 16, 2011 5:44 pm

If Pujols leaves, how will history view that Holliday deal?

2 rbj   ~  Feb 16, 2011 5:45 pm

Wow. ten straight years of .300, 30+ HR, 100+ rbi, and you're going to lowball the best player in the game, someone who's got a shot at the all time HR record? Maybe you tell him you don't have Yankee money, but you at least have Philly & Minnesota money.

3 Bobtaco   ~  Feb 16, 2011 6:36 pm

Keith O thinks he should sign for less than big market $s:


4 Mattpat11   ~  Feb 16, 2011 6:49 pm

Olbermann is as hard to read as he is to listen to.

5 RIYank   ~  Feb 16, 2011 7:35 pm

What happens to a Pujols deferred?

Does it dry up
like a Raines in the sun?
Or fester like a Suarez—
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten Mitre?
Or crust and sugar over—
like a syrupy Sheets?

Maybe it just sags
like Bartolo Colon...

Or does it explode for .360/.470/.675?

6 Chyll Will   ~  Feb 16, 2011 7:40 pm

[5] RIYank vs. "______" >;)

[1] "It seems they should have won when they got him."

7 williamnyy23   ~  Feb 16, 2011 8:09 pm

One of the problems with a player like Pujols is he spend the first half of his career producing at a $30-40 million level, so when it comes time for him be paid appropriately, it seems much more expensive than it is. After underpaying Pujols for so long, you can see why the Cardinals would be aghast at the thought of paying fair value. They've been getting a bargain for so long, and now they are being asked to triple their payment for the same service. It's kind of like what happens when an introductory offer expires and you get your first "real" bill.

8 Chyll Will   ~  Feb 16, 2011 8:50 pm

[7] Albert "Repo Man" Pujols...

9 RagingTartabull   ~  Feb 16, 2011 9:11 pm

I don't know how...I don't know why...

but he's ending up on the Marlins.

10 briang   ~  Feb 16, 2011 9:34 pm

i can't agree that watching him is a beautiful thing. he is one of those guys, for as great as he obviously is, i hate watching him play baseball.

slow, bad stance, bland swing......not very dynamic. boring.

i prey he never ends up a yankee.

11 briang   ~  Feb 16, 2011 9:37 pm


12 OldYanksFan   ~  Feb 16, 2011 10:24 pm

I understand wanting the acknowledgement, as well as the money, of a big contract. But I do believe there is something to be said for Pujols being a life-long Cardinal.

Stan Musial was just honored... a mere 47 years after he played his last game. Stan The Man, 22 years a Redbird. The man is a God in St. Louis, and Pujols is in line for his mantle.

How about this.
8/$200m with a PLAYER option for a 9th year at $20m or a $10m buyout, and $10m for a 10th year.

That way his AAV is $25m. It's a minimum of $210m and a max of $230m. He can play 8 years, or 9, or 10, if he's chasing records.

Can he get more then $230m as a FA? Probably... but not that much more. Maybe 10%.

If you made over $330m in your career, would you sacrifice $20m for a bronz statue. So people will stop your great grandchildren in the street to just say 'Hi' to a Pujols?

Yeah, the $21m AAV doesn't sound right. But $210m to $230m ain't bad. $25m AAV ain't bad.

The guy should stay in St. Louis.

P.S. Maybe defer another $25 at $1.25m for 20 years? Would that help?

13 williamnyy23   ~  Feb 16, 2011 10:46 pm

[12] I don't get the argument that Pujols should leave money on the table in exchange for the legacy that goes with being a life long Cardinal. Why shouldn't he expect fair value? Isn't it the Cardinals responsibility to pay extra to further their brand by making Pujols the heir to Musial?

Also, let's be honest. If not for the reserve clause, Stan the Man would have also demanded a market rate. In fact, he did it on more than one occassion. In 1947, he held out for a few weeks because of his demand that he be paid the highest salary in the game. He eventually settled for double his previous salary. If not for the leverage of the reserve clause, I am sure Musial would have gotten his wish.

14 Start Spreading the News   ~  Feb 17, 2011 12:17 am

[3] Must be the same strategy that Keith used when he resigned with MSNBC for a "mere" $7.5 million a year, near the top of the cable news salary list.

15 joejoejoe   ~  Feb 17, 2011 1:19 am

A 2/3/4/5 of Cano, A-Rod, Pujols, Tex sounds like 1000 runs.

16 joejoejoe   ~  Feb 17, 2011 1:32 am

[3] What an anachronistic pile of garbage from Keith Olbermann.

Did it jeopardize everything Orel Hersheiser ever did to pitch for the Indians? Or for Don Mattingly to coach the Dodgers? Pro baseball is an industry with a finite number of employers and a finite number of jobs. If you want to stay and work someplace for less money like you are some kind of hipster barista living in Portland, Oregon good for you. If you don't, it's a free country all the same. Last time I checked Albert Pujols was raised in Santo Domingo, not St. Louis.

I'm sure Olbermann would make the same argument about Jeter but then Jeter was getting offered $10M more per year to stay in the Bronx, not $10M less like Pujols.

17 Chyll Will   ~  Feb 17, 2011 3:12 am

[16] Can we banish all hipster baristas to Portland, Oregon? In fact, banish all hipsters period to Portland, Oregon; please and thank you...

18 Simone   ~  Feb 17, 2011 7:57 am

I will never understand some sports writers and fans who always think that players should play for less, while the owners rake in the bucks. Playing for the same franchise and legacy talk is crap as far as I am concerned. Tons of the greatest players played for more than one team and didn't matter when all was said and done.

Where is the outrage at the Cardinals for low balling Pujols? I find the Cardinals negotiating strategy simply outrageous. It should have ponied up the money that its owner has been hoarding for years without a second thought, instead they are low balling Pujols. He would be a fool to accept anything less than "highest player ever" money. If the Cardinals don't pay him, another team will fork over that money.

19 ms october   ~  Feb 17, 2011 8:37 am

[18] hear hear simone.

20 The Hawk   ~  Feb 17, 2011 8:50 am

Usually there's a lot of room for debate vis a vis what a player should be paid, but I just don't see it here. The guy is a beast. In fact he may be the Beast, hahaha ... Pay him.

21 The Mick536   ~  Feb 17, 2011 8:56 am

KO has my vote, but that doesn't mean those who have taken a different stance at the plate do not. Maybe its an age thing, although he be 12 years younger than I.

St. Louis may be counted as a small market team, but they fill the stadium with rabid fans every night who come from all over to see their team. I went to a cubbies game that opened my eyes to how much fun it could be to go to a game again. Sitting in the outfield bleachers with my wife-who wore a cubbies shirt and cap, and her bear, Theodore-the number 1 cubbies fan in the country with his cubbies shirt and sash, we cheered the visitors. King Albert made a spectacular play at first. We cheered. Aramis made a great play at third. They cheered. The cubbies won. A guy wearing cardinal red who sat next to us shook our hands and asked if we were coming to game to the following evening. We couldn't afford the tickets. He said to come to the stadium at 9:00 am where they sell 200 game day tickets before every game at list prices. We had paid $250 apiece for the outfield.

Albert. I'd stay.

22 monkeypants   ~  Feb 17, 2011 9:06 am

I have a hard time seeing an offer of $20/year as "low balling" Pujols.

I agree with most here that Pujols is under no obligation to the Cardinals; on the other hand, it is inaccurate to argue that "legacy" matters nothing at all, or that in the popular imagination a player usually earns more acclaim by sticking with the same team his entire career. How much is that worth? It's up to the individual.

I agree that Pujols should receive fair market value. But what is the market these days? How much is the best hitter in the game worth, given that he's a 1B and 30+ y.o.? Many around these parts cringed at A-Rod's contract extension, but isn't Pujols asking for essentially the same deal?

I's not really sure why this is a story. In the end, Pujols will either stay and make a pile of money, or he will leave and (perhaps) make a slightly larger pile of money playing for one of about five teams that are willing to afford him. I certainly don't see anyone being victimized.

23 Chyll Will   ~  Feb 17, 2011 9:43 am

As far as I know, the market value is based on what the highest bidder is willing to offer given his set of skills and history in a particular position or situation; if you have one dumb owner as Boras says who is willing to give Albert Pujols ♪A-Rod-munneh♫, then that's his value.

You can talk about production, stat comparisons and state of the economy until your blue in the face, if someone is willing to pay him $25-30 million a year for an extended period of time, it will happen whether we like it or not (and I don't know about you, but I don't care either way). My feeling is both sides will come to the middle before he reaches free agency, but if they don't he's gonna make a metric ton of money somewhere.

24 Chyll Will   ~  Feb 17, 2011 9:49 am

And inversely, if he accepts less than what he's asking for, that's his value as well. He should have fired his agent years ago when he signed his current contract and realized halfway through that he gypped himself, but it is what it is and he's trying to compensate now I suppose, which at his age will be a tough sell for anyone. But it wouldn't be unheard of if someone actually offers $100 mil for three or four years, would it?

25 williamnyy23   ~  Feb 17, 2011 10:08 am

[22] Legacy does matter, but it's a two way street. One reason the Cardinals have brand value is because of their legacy, and great players contribute to that. Pujols is among the greatest of them all. So, if his being a lifetime Cardinal does in fact add to his legacy, then it does to the Cardinals' as well. In that case, Pujols should be compensated for that added value.

I definitely don't think the Cardinals should be forced to pay him, but don't come out whining that "we're not the Yankees". The Cardinals can in fact afford to pay Pujols Arod-type money. The question is do they want to diminsh their profit margin in order to do so.

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver