Now that the World Series is over, the free agent frenzy begins. This offseason, there is not a bigger prize to be had than Albert Pujols. He has arguably had the best 10 years to begin his career as anyone…ever. Now the big question is where he will land for the 2012 season.
Before you can find out what team he’s going to choose, you have to know what he will have to choose from. Typically the big spenders in the past few years have been the Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs, Mets and Dodgers. Just for the heck of it, we’ll toss the Nationals in there because they spent a stupid amount of money on Jayson Werth (.232, 20 HR, 58 RBIs in 150 games). That was totally worth it.
Automatically, we’ll throw out the Dodgers and Mets. Dodgers owner Frank McCourt is going through a messy divorce and Mets owner Fred Wilpon was involved with the Bernie Madoff ponzi scheme. Both of those things = no money. Wilpon will have a hard enough tiome trying to keep NL batting champ Jose Reyes let alone get Pujols.
The Red Sox and Yankees already have fantastic first basemen in Adrian Gonzalez (.338, 27 HR, 117 RBI) and Mark Teixeira (.248, 39 HR, 111 RBI), respectively. The Red Sox had an awful end to their season but I don’t think they’ll overreact by getting rid of a productive player like Gonzalez.
The Nationals are a sleeper team because of the ridiculous money they are willing to spend, but Pujols will not be willing to be the cornerstone of a team where he will not have a chance at another World Series ring.
That leaves the top two contenders: The Cubs have money to spend and are looking to make a splash with Theo Epstein, their newest executive, at the helm. The Cardinals are desperate to keep the face of their franchise in St. Louis.
The Cubs will likely offer Pujols huge money but there’s a few thing that come into play. One – he’d be going to the Cardinals biggest rival and tainting his legacy in St. Louis. Two – Pujols has said that he likes St. Louis and seems like the kind of guy that wants to stay with one team his whole career.
Pujols will be taking his talents back to the Gateway to the West, most likely with the Cardinals getting a hometown discount. The Cubs will get a very respectable “second place” by plucking Prince Fielder from the Brewers.
Epstein will be looking to make even bigger splashes in the Cubbie rotation. Personally, I can’t wait to see the match-ups next season between the World Series champs and what will likely be an upstart Chicago team.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments.