Pujols and Cards let contract deadline pass

Am I over-thinking this? How do the Cardinals let this happen? The deal they offered supposedly would not have made Pujols one of the top 5 paid players. Seriously? Now he’ll play out the year and test free agency. Is this just a ploy by Pujols’ agent and he’ll probably sign with the Cards next off-season for a mega-deal, or is it likely he’ll really test the market? I don’t see the upside for the Cardinals. Why NOT just make him the big offer now? This guy is historical. Are they going to let him walk away over a few bucks? I know he’s 31, and wanted a LONG deal, but jeez-louise… it’s Albert Pujols.

They don’t have the money to pay him what he can get from a major market team. They want to keep him, but they they just don’t have that kind of payroll. He still has a year left on his current contract, then we’ll see him in pinstripes, I’m sure.

The two sides supposedly did not talk the last couple of days. I can’t understand that from the Cardinals’ point of view. I guess they really think that when Pujols hits the market, he’ll find the Yankees and Red Sox aren’t in the bidding and nobody else will be willing or able to offer him what he wants, which is something like $28 million a year for around eight years. I think they’re kidding themselves if they believe nobody would be willing to offer him that kind of money. He wants a contract with an average salary of something like what Alex Rodriguez is getting, and apparently their latest offer was at least $4 million or $5 million less than that.

Tonight’s report is that the Cardinals offered somewhere in the neighborhood of $19-$23 million per year for either 9 or 10 years, AND a piece of the team.

The generally accepted wisdom is that Pujols was asking for approximately $30 million and a 10-year contract. The Cards’ offer was okay on length, but if Pujols decides his piece of the team wouldn’t be worth $70 million in 10 years, they’re way apart on money.

The Cardinals’ payroll, as far as anyone can figure, is about $110 million per year, so $30 million would be a substantial chunk of the total payroll.

Jayson Stark of ESPN takes a rather dim view of the Cardinals’ statement that they did everything they could to sign Pujols this offseason.

I have a lot of problems with that Stark article.

What is “unthinkable” about Pujols becoming a free agent? How many players don’t become free agents these days? The only way to avoid that is to pay well over market value (cough Ryan Howard cough). That way lies madness if you have a payroll at all limited.

Second: “The bottom line is,” an official of one team said Wednesday, “Albert Pujols is their team. Without him, they’re an ordinary team. … And they can’t replace him. Nobody can replace him. He’s an irreplaceable guy.” This is just a silly statement. Of course you can’t replace Pujols one-for-one. But you’re telling me a team can’t spend $30 million per year on players that can replace 8 WAR? Hell, Adrian Gonzalez by himself has been worth 5-6 WAR over the last three years. And it’s not very likely that Pujols is an 8-win player at 42 (not impossible, but unlikely).

Would I love to see Pujols remain with the Cards for the rest of his career, and end up a Musialesque icon in St. Louis? Absolutely. Am I willing to sit through losing baseball for the last 5 years of his career for that to happen? Not really.

Now we play the season, I get to enjoy at least one more year of watching Albert hit, and then he and the team decide if there is a way to make this work. It seems pretty clear that if Albert is dead-set on becoming the highest-paid player in the game on AAV he has to take a shorter contract. If he wants 10 years and the highest AAV, then he’ll almost certainly be gone.

You weren’t surprised that they made such a limited effort to sign him in advance?

ESPN reported last night that they offered him 8 years and that he didn’t have a problem with that. The problem was they weren’t offering enough money. And yes, it’s absurd that these guys want to be making the same amount of money at 40 that they do in their prime. That’s been the standard for a while, though.

Not particularly. Maybe I’m just burned out on “unnamed sources” and “people close to the discussions”. My take is that the team realized pretty quickly they weren’t gonna get where Lozano wanted before Spring Training. They made an offer based purely on his baseball value, and refused to bid themselves up.

Well, to be honest, I’m not sure how much I believe that (the part about him being OK with 8 years). Until the man or his agent comes out and says it himself. I think it’s more likely that Lozano laid out the parameters and the Cards said “we’re not willing to offer that now”. They are making a bet that either (a) Pujols will value remaining a Cardinal more than a few extra mill per year or (b) no team will put up a ridiculous 10/$30 offer. I think both are likely incorrect, but I think it’s equally foolish to believe that Pujol’s wasn’t going to test free agency.

I also believe that a team will win more games by forgoing 8+ year $25+ million contracts than by signing them, even for future Hall of Famers.

In my opinion, the absurd part isn’t that they want to make as much at 40 it’s that teams continue to give it to them.

Has there been a single free agent signing (not buying out Arb years - true free agents) of 8 years or more that has looked like a good deal in hindsight?

Even A-Rod, who was basically of the same value as Pujols at this point in their career, has fallen off a bit faster than expected, and is very unlikely to be worth it over the rest of his contract. Of course, the Yankees don’t care, but for a team like the Cardinals that can be ruinous.

A-Rod has certainly produced at a $25 million level for the entire length of the ten-year deal he signed with Texas.

Bonds’ initial deal with the Giants was a 6 year deal, but it would have looked fine if it had been 8.

Also, Manny Ramirez (2001-2008) looks like a pretty good deal in hindsight, sub-par 2007 and flameout in 2008 notwithstanding.

It’s not just the length, it’s their ages. Yes, but he was 25 when he signed that contract. Pujols is looking for a similar deal that starts when he’s 31. That makes it a lot less likely he will be worth it in the last couple of years of the deal.

Oh, sure, I’m just responding to the previous poster’s assertion that not a single long-term contract has been worth it - there haven’t been a lot of them, but at least some of them have worked for their entire length.

I’d agree that anyone signing Pujols to an 8 year deal will probably be overpaying him for the last 2-3 years, and maybe more if he Dale Murphys.

I was referring more to ~31-year-olds. It seems unlikely that A-Rod’s second deal will look as good.

That’s a fair cop. One might consider what was required for him to perform at that level at that age…

See above, re: Bonds. But this is probably a decent example.

It makes me a bit sad to consider that all of the “successful” contracts you mention include either admitted, charged, or caught PED users… :frowning:

To be fair, both Ramirez and Bonds were a few years younger than Pujols will be when he’s a free agent.

I feel like I’m coming across as saying “let him walk”. That couldn’t be further from the truth. I own two Pujols jerseys. I’ve seen him play at least 200 times in person. I’ll be telling my kids and grandkids about watching him. And nothing would make me happier than getting to watch him finish his career here.

That said, a team with the payroll the Cardinals have can’t just “give him what he wants”. That’s no way to do a negotiation. They are taking a massive gamble, but they can still sign him. And if they don’t, I think it’s likely because he signed a contract that would have made the Cardinals uncompetitive beyond the next 3-4 years if they matched it.

And to add a few more quotes from the man himself:

Ah, OK. And right you are, even if Pujols is older than those players.

Possibly. I do think they have decided nobody else is going to meet his demands, and it’s hard to see why they feel that way. I mean, look what the Phillies just paid Cliff Lee to pitch. It’s also hard to figure why they seem to have decided he’s worth less per year over this deal than Miguel Cabrera is. (I know Cabrera is younger, but Pujols has been more consistent and plays better defense. Nevermind that Cabrera got busted for DUI last night.) Even if Pujols was determined to test free agency, I’m not sure why the Cardinals didn’t try to do this earlier, (both in the previous offseason and this offseason.

As a blanket rule? Not necessarily. I think it would take the Cardinals years to recover from losing him - they don’t have much of a farm system and I’m not blown away by the rest of that free agent class. I don’t know if they’ll burn the whole team down and start over, but I don’t know how they compete for the next few years without him. Just last season they signed Holliday for seven years and $120 million, and the general consensus was that they did that to show Pujols they were serious about competing over the long term. Holliday is a day older than Pujols.

True, but I think that ship sailed a long time ago.

But, look at it from Pujols’ point of view: What’s the urgency for him to sign now, rather than wait until after the season? Help me out if I’m missing something here, but I don’t see why Albert wouldn’t want to wait until after the season, unless the Cards were making him an offer now that was so juicy he couldn’t hope to get as good a deal later on. He has little to lose by waiting; if he wants to remain a Cardinal after 2011, he’ll still have that opportunity. And since Albert has so little incentive to sign now, rather than later, the team has little chance to make him an offer that would convince him to sign now.

I’m a die-hard Cards fan, so maybe my judgement is clouded. I sincerely think that Pujols will stay a Cardinal for life. The admiration he has for Stan Musial is evident and he wants that, too. His agent (and the union) may be sabre-rattling right now, but this time next year, you’ll see AP wearing the birds & bats again.

There’s always the possibility of a serious injury, or (much more unlikely) a bad year. Plus he’ll be 32 next time around, which doesn’t help his case.