St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols appeared on St. Louis sports station WXOS 101.1 FM on Thursday morning. Pujols was asked to explain comments made during an interview in the Dominican Republic.
In the interview, Pujols suggested he was in no hurry to sign a contract extension with the Cardinals.
“The fans know and the Cardinals know that I want to be a Cardinal for my whole career,” Pujols said. “I love this city. The way that this city has embraced me and my family, I don’t deserve the city to do that. And when you hear all of the players that come around to this town and say, ‘You guys are lucky that you are playing in St. Louis,’ we have the best fans. I want to be a Cardinal for the rest of my career.
“And what I told those people (in the D.R.) was ‘Listen, why do people keep talking about my contract? I have two years (left) and we don’t have to worry about it.’ You know the Cardinals need to worry about signing Matt Holliday and all the free agents.There’s no rush for me to sign right now, you know? But if they come tomorrow and say ‘Albert, you know, we want to lock you up,’—hey they know that we’re open to that.
“But I think part of that was (me) putting things in their place and the Cardinals don’t have to rush to sign me right now because we still have two years. But I’d love to finish my career here. And all that got all confused, or whatever, maybe because of the way that I said it. But people know that I want to be a Cardinal for the rest of my life. I’ve said it in the past.”
I hate to burst your bubble Cardinals fans, but this sounds all too familar. It looks like Pujols and the Cardinals have already starting playing the free agent game.
Here is how these games usually go.
Star player says he loves the city and wants to finish out his career for his current team.
Team offers “fair” deal, but lower than what the player can get in the open market in hopes that he takes a hometown discount.
Star player signs with another team for more money.
Team says we “tried” and paints the star player as the bad guy for leaving for the money.
Star player takes out a full-page ad in the Sunday paper saying how much he loved the city and wished he could have stayed.
It’s been the same story between player and team since the inception of free agency.
Listen, I hope Pujols stays with the Cardinals. It’s good for the game of baseball. Just like it’s good for Joe Mauer to stay with the Minnesota Twins, Roy Halladay to stay with the Toronto Blue Jays, and Prince Fielder to stay with the Milwaukee Brewers.
But let’s be realistic. Unless Pujols takes a hometown discount, the Cardinals are going to be hard pressed to sign him.
Pujols should ask for $40 million a year. That is what he is worth. Everyone in America should be able to have the opportunity to get paid what they are worth–Pujols is no different.
Can the Cardinals, whose payroll usually is around the $90 to $99 million mark, afford to pay one player $40 million and still be competitive?
The Texas Rangers tried that with Alex Rodriguez and we all know how that worked out.
The Cardinals and Pujols have already started the free agent game. It will be fascinating to see how this turns out.