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MLB Trade Rumors: Albert Pujols to Become a Free Agent?

Ken Rosenthal posted a new rumors article over at yesterday, and now that the Cardinals have been eliminated from the playoffs, he is speculating that Albert Pujols could become a free agent when his contract runs out after the 2011 season.

Pujols has always said he wants to play for a winner, and will not be so quick to sign a long-term extension this offseason until after he see what the Cardinals do to replace free agents Matt Holliday, Mark DeRosa, Joel Pineiro and John Smoltz.

Here is an excerpt from him article:

Even if both sides are well-intentioned, the odds of the Cardinals keeping Pujols beyond 2011 probably are not good.

Let's say Pujols views Alex Rodriguez's 10-year, $275 million contract as his benchmark, even though it was a free-agent deal signed in a better economy.

Let's say the Cardinals view an eight-year, $160 million deal as more realistic, even though Pujols would start his next deal at the same age that Rodriguez did, 32.

If you were Pujols, how much of a discount would you give?

He goes on to talk about how Pujols has the sixth highest OPS+ in history, and is a solid defensive first baseman. But he also talks about how the Cardinals window for winning may be closing soon with both manager Tony Larussa and pitching coach Dave Duncan unsigned after this season.

It's obvious the Cardinals have alot of decisions to make. Do they re-sign Larussa, Duncan and Holliday and extend Pujols. That could be quite expensive.

And what happens to the Cardinals pitching staff if Duncan leaves? I think the STL pitchers take a bit of a hit come draft day. I know its early, and the postseason is just getting started, but the thought of Albert Pujols playing somewhere other than St. Louis is interesting.