So Why Should He Stay?
Pujols is already a legend in St. Louis. He’s second in franchise history to Stan Musial in almost every offensive category, and he has openly refused the nickname “El Hombre” because he reveres Musial so much. There are statues outside Busch Stadium for Musial, Bob Gibson, Lou Brock, Ozzie Smith, and other team legends, and when his career is done Pujols can have the biggest statue of them all. But it goes beyond baseball numbers at this point.
It comes down to dollars. Pujols wants to be paid comparatively to Texeira, Howard and A-Rod, because he is undoubtedly the best player in the game. He’s also the most important player on his team at any time, which is the main reason I think he avoids New York or Boston, aside from, you know, them not needing him. The Cardinals extended an offer before this season that was something in the neighborhood of 8 years, $22.5 million per, with an option for a 9th year, and it was rumored that at the Pujols-imposed deadline they even mentioned a small ownership percentage.
Once the Cardinals have their manager selected and hired, all eyes will turn to Pujols. The market will open up and teams will bid. I don’t believe that the demand will be as high as some people expect, but then I’m not an expert. The Cardinals will offer 8 or 9 years, $24-25 million per, late year incentives to protect themselves against his age, that small ownership percentage, and a promise that this team will always be competitive. Mozeliak and owner Bill DeWitt Jr. have to know how essential this is to their legacies as well, so they will be in the bidding until the last second. At least I hope they will, as winning a World Series may be viewed as a safety net for all of the fans who will be jumping.
What Pujols has to weigh everything against, even in the face of an absurd $30 million offer, is that he’s safe in St. Louis. If he takes a huge contract, plays in Chicago and starts to break down after a few seasons and that guaranteed .300/30/100 turns into .260/20/60, he will be booed and viewed as a burden.
St. Louis would at least deal with it, and he’d still be a legend. Anywhere else he’d be an afterthought.
And if you made it all the way through this rant, you get a prize…