Trade Poll Tuesday: The return of Albert Pujols? - KMOV.com

Trade Poll Tuesday: The return of Albert Pujols?

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(Credit: AP Images) (Credit: AP Images)
ST. LOUIS (BaseballStL) -

Welcome to back to Trade Poll Tuesday, a weekly feature breaking down one hypothetical trade proposal that comes from YOU, the readers. Got an idea for a trade you’d like to see the Cardinals make? Let me know on Twitter @bschaeffer12, and your suggestions could be featured in the next edition of #TradePollTuesday.

Looking at the batch of trade suggestions I received this week, one stood out among the rest. Not because of its realism—no, rest assured, this trade would never happen, not in a million years.

Understand, there’s nothing sensible about this proposal. Yet, it makes all the sense in the world. And because it’s maniacally fun—and because it garnered the most response of anything in this week’s Twitter thread by a considerable margin—I decided to write about it, anyway.

So here we go. This week’s submission comes from Burke Wasson (@burke_wasson) on Twitter.

Proposal: OF Dexter Fowler, 1B Jose Martinez, 3B Jedd Gyorko, RHP Dakota Hudson and SS Edmundo Sosa to the Angels for 1B/DH Albert Pujols and SS Andrelton Simmons

There is a ton to unpack, here. One major motivation of this trade for the Cardinals would be to facilitate the return of the greatest Cardinal since Musial, allowing Albert Pujols to finish his career where it began. There are two reasons that, from a baseball perspective, doing so would be pretty dumb.

First, his production.

Among 24 qualifying MLB first basemen this season, Pujols’ .693 OPS ranks 23rd. For the Cardinals, Jose Martinez ranks 5th, at .860. So swapping Pujols for Martinez would offer a substantial downgrade offensively for St. Louis.

The other reason, of course, is the Pujols contract.

From 2019 to 2021, Albert is owed $88 million. His 2018 salary is $27 million. Jose Martinez is making $560,400. He also hasn’t yet turned 30 years old, and is under team control through the 2022 season. Pujols is pushing 40, and will almost certainly be a liability in his final years.

Pujols has also aged out of his Gold Glove form defensively, so don’t expect him to be an improvement at first base from Martinez. If anything, that should make it so the Angels wouldn’t be hesitant to use Martinez at first—they’re used to the poor play at the position.

All right, so with the first basemen changing hands, this trade favors the Angels in a remarkable landslide. To tilt the ledger back the other direction, let’s talk about the other major motivation for the Cardinals in this trade, the most significant asset changing hands: Andrelton Simmons.

Simmons is the best defensive shortstop in baseball, and would be an immediate fan favorite in St. Louis for those who remember the Ozzie era. Almost as impressive as his glove work is the evolution of his bat the last couple years.

Because of his defense, Simmons was always a positive contributor, even when his offensive output varied from 25% below average to 9% below average, per OPS+, from 2013 to 2016. After posting an OPS+ of 103 last season, Simmons is having a career year at the plate this summer. His .319/.380/.440 batting line is good for an OPS+ of 129. His 3.9 WAR already this season is 15th in MLB. He would immediately be the Cardinals best player.

So why would the Angels want to give that up?

Well, they probably wouldn’t. But could they be enticed by close to $30 million, a huge upgrade at first base, the Cardinals’ #3 prospect, #11 prospect and a versatile big-league infielder?

We’ve discussed Jose Martinez’s impact on the deal, which is probably the most substantial benefit for the Angels from a personnel perspective. Dakota Hudson might be right behind him. The 3rd-ranked prospect in the St. Louis system per MLB.com, Hudson is just outside the top 100 prospects list. His 11-2 record and 2.10 ERA in 94.1 innings at Memphis this year has folks thinking he might be able to stick as a starter at the next level. He’s been downright dominant, and appears major-league ready.

The other prospect is Edmundo Sosa, a glove-first infielder who has held his own at the plate recently in the minors. Before being promoted to Memphis a couple weeks ago, Sosa had a passable .276/.308/.429 batting line in Double-A, and currently boasts a .773 OPS in 25 Triple-A at-bats. I added him to Burke’s proposal to offer the Angels the potential of another smooth defender to help lessen the blow of losing Simmons in the trade. Sosa is the #11 prospect in the Cardinals system, per MLB.com.

And while I said this trade was more about fantasy-land desires than addressing real-world needs, Jedd Gyorko would actually be a good fit for an Angels team that has been forced to slot Luis Valbuena’s awful .609 OPS as the primary third baseman this season. 24-year-old David Fletcher is off to a red-hot start at the position after his recent call up, but if he doesn’t sustain it, Gyorko would fit nicely thanks to his sterling defense at the hot corner.

Trade Summary

The Cardinals would part with their #3 prospect, a pitcher with legitimate MLB ceiling. They would dump $49.5 million in bad Dexter Fowler money, but take on $88 million in bad Albert Pujols money, which despite the insanity factor, would actually be really cool and meaningful for a generation of Cardinals fans. In bearing the considerable financial burden of the deal, and in sending Hudson and Sosa, the Cardinals receive the prized asset of the trade in Simmons. It bears mentioning that the Cardinals already have a strong defender at shortstop in Paul DeJong on his way back from a broken hand. Though DeJong’s preference is to stick at the position, shifting him to third should be a fine consolation if the Cardinals were to net the best shortstop in the game. Because the Cardinals have Matt Carpenter, they would not need to rely on Pujols in an everyday role, and in adding Simmons and shifting Carpenter to first, would facilitate an astounding improvement to infield defense.

The Angels would receive three primary benefits in the trade: saving a lot of cash, improving handily at first base with Jose Martinez, and adding Dakota Hudson to a pitching staff that could probably use him while the Shohei Ohtani injury situation plays out. Martinez and Hudson would cheap assets for a combined 10 seasons, so the Angels could see the dividends of such a trade long after Albert Pujols has retired.

Elsewhere in the move, the Angels effectively shed payroll to take a chance on a 32-year-old Fowler, who could conceivably regain some of his production with a change of scenery. They receive Jedd Gyorko, a decent asset that can offer value at third base. And they add Edmundo Sosa as a meager boon to the farm system.

Note: Fowler and Pujols both have no-trade clauses in their contracts, but for the sake of this exercise, we're going to assume both men would accept the deal; Fowler's time in St. Louis has not gone well, and Pujols would be welcomed back like a king, so just go with it.

It's crazy. It would never happen. But it actually sounds... attractive to both sides? Maybe not, but that doesn't even matter. All that matters on Trade Poll Tuesday is whether it sounds attractive to you.

So does this deal sound like one you would propose to the Angels if you ran the Cardinals? Sound off by voting in the poll and replying with your thoughts!

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