Will Albert stay or will he go?
(BaseballStL) -- The Florida, now Miami Marlins, have a big free agent offer on the table for Albert Pujols. According to Yahoo Sports the Marlins are offering Pujols a deal believed to be for 9 years and $225 million dollars. That shakes down to a tidy sum of $25 million per year.
The Cardinals offer to Pujols, made just before the start of spring training 2011, was believed to be for less than 200 million. Obviously, the Cardinals would love to have Pujols back and have him finish his career here. The question is, how much are they willing to pay for that to happen?
I believe the Cardinals could swallow the $25 million a year figure, but not the 9 years or the $225 million over the life of the contract. It's just too much for a player who will turn 32 years old in January, and whose numbers have dipped in the the last two seasons. Still a great player, obviously, but there are signs that his decline has already started.
Would it really make sense to be on the hook for $25 million for another 9 years? I don't think so.
Maybe it's important for Pujols to max out on this contract and prove to the baseball world that he deserves the richest contract. If it is, the Cardinals need to let him go and look elsewhere for offensive production. They can improve their team greatly with the money they won't be spending on Albert.
The Cardinals don't have many needs for 2012, but they do have some. If Pujols leaves, Lance Berkman will become the first baseman and Allen Craig will take over in rightfield. That works. The Cardinals would still need another big bat as a fourth outfielder, preferably somebody who could play centerfield.
Jon Jay showed enough to prove he deserves the starting job in center, but if he should falter as he did in the world series, it'd be nice to have another solid option to put in center. Injuries are inevitible. Somebody will no doubt get a couple hundred at bats subbing for Jay, Craig and/of Matt Holliday.
The Redbirds also will have to decide if they can really go into 2012 with Daniel Descalso as their second baseman and Tyler Greene as the shortstop. If Pujols re-signs with the Cardinals, I would think the Cards would go with Descalso and Greene to save cash.
If Pujols doesn't re-sign with the Cardinals, look for Bill DeWitt Jr. to break out the checkbook and sign a middle infielder who would upgrade the Cardinals offense. Jose Reyes comes immediately to mind. He would definitely be a welcomed addition as a shortstop and speedy lead-off hitter.
There are other things the Cardinals could do with the mega millions not spent on Pujols. They could always use another top of the rotation type of starting pitcher. They need another solid lefthanded reliever. A big bat coming off the bench would be nice if Allen Craig is going to be an everyday player.
Not signing Pujols would give the club a lot of options to improve itself. Signing Pujols to a contract of that magnitude ($225 million) could handcuff them and prevent them from making adjustments to the roster for the next decade.
The Cardinals have a very difficult decision to make on Albert. If they decide they just can't pay him what he thinks he's worth, the Cardinals will probably be better off in the long run anyway.
-- Doug Vaughn, News 4 Sports