Can the Giants afford Albert Pujols?
Over the weekend, Buster Olney of ESPN tweeted that St. Louis Cardinals’ star first baseman Albert Pujols might walk away from the Cards after this season if a contract extension isn’t worked out by the time spring training starts.
He also caught the eye of many Giants bloggers when he tweeted that San Francisco could be a destination for the slugger.
One thing’s for sure: no matter where Pujols turns up, he’s going to be paid handsomely.
Some insiders are saying the Cardinals’ negotiations with Pujols could resemble the Yankees’ negotiations with Alex Rodriguez. Indeed, Cardinals executives have acknowledged that an extension with their first baseman would take the organization places it hasn’t gone in terms of contract value and potential incentive clauses.
Determining a fair price for Pujols (who turned 31 on Tuesday) will be a unique challenge for Cards GM John Mozeliak and Pujols’ agent Dan Lozano. Simply put, there is not much precedent for Pujols, who is already a Hall of Fame lock. The nine-time All-Star and two-time defending home run champ is one of the best players of all time. Pujols, who has three MVP trophies on his mantle, will be 32 in 2012, which would be the first season of a potential new deal.
So, how does San Francisco fit in?
First of all, reports indicate that the talks between Pujols and the Cards are not going smoothly.
Given that the usual suspects (Yankees, Phillies, and Red Sox) already have established first basemen, maybe there is a little logic to Olney’s speculation. (He also said that the Dodgers, Cubs and Angels could be interested.)
The real question of course, is, can the Giants afford Pujols?
While unfathomable, it’s not entirely unreasonable to think that Pujols could be baseball’s first $300 million player. Think of it. Thirty-mil a year for 10 years.
It’s been awhile now since Giants GM Brian Sabean has attacked the club’s coffers. And while Barry Zito still has four years left on his $128 million deal (and Aaron Rowand still has 2/$27.2), Dave Roberts has been off the books for a whole year! Ch-ching.
Seriously though, any attempts by the Giants to get involved in the Pujols Party would have to start with a discussion about what to do with their up-and-coming starting rotation. Tim Lincecum (unrestricted free agent in 2014), Matt Cain (2013), Jonathan Sanchez (2013) and — eventually — Madison Bumgarner are all going to ask for big contracts, too, once the Giants lose control of them, one-by-one.
Even if they did just win a World Series title, the Giants can’t sign Pujols and Lincecum/Cain/Sanchez/Bumgarner to monstrous, long-term contracts. Can they?