Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Pujols Negotiations Re-Ignited

Joe Strauss of St. Louis Today reports that the Cardinals and Albert Pujols have re-opened contract extension negotiations.  According to several anonymous sources close to the negotiation, they've taken on a "positive" tone.  Those sources have asked to remain anonymous due to both the sensitivity surrounding the negotiations, and a gentleman's agreement between Pujols's agent, Dan Lozano, and Cardinals GM John Mozeliak to "keep talks confidential."

Pujols has indicated that he will not negotiate a deal once he reports to Spring Training in Jupiter, FL next month.  This adds a certain degree of urgency on the part of the Cardinals to get this deal done as quickly as possible.  With only five weeks in which to agree in principle, there's very little margin for error. While the two sides met twice last month during the Winter Meetings in Orlando, they did not exchange proposals according to sources.  At the moment, it's unclear how much progress has been made, but it's believed to be "well beyond any framework discussed during last February's aborted discussions." 

Pujols, 30, is reportedly looking for a seven year contract with an annual average salary of $25-30M.  While that sounds like a lot of money (and it is), when you compare it to the salary of players like Mark Teixeira (who is not quite as talented and making $22.5M per season), it doesn't seem quite so ridiculous.  It's all relative.

The Cardinals are in a similar position with Pujols as the Giants were with Bonds, or the Orioles were with Ripken.  He is the face of their franchise.  For a player of his caliber (in his prime) they almost have to give in to his demands.  In ten seasons, Pujols has put up a .331/.426/.624 (.434 wOBA) triple slash line with 408 home runs, 1230 RBI, and 1186 runs scored.  He's played Fielding Bible Award quality defense at first base saving 62.4 runs per UZR (91 runs per DRS's calculation).  To date, he's provided 80.6 fWAR throughout his career.  Currently he's 43rd all-time in fWAR, and he still has another 10 years of play left in him, barring injuries.  To understand just how dominant he's been, he's averaging 8 WAR per season, which means he theoretically has produced enough value for ten MVP quality seasons.  That's nothing short of amazing.  This really should be a no-brainer for the Cardinals. 

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