Cardinal fans can't even fathom such a thought, but if you read between the lines of some of recent comments made by Cardinals President Bill DeWitt, there is a chance.
Here are a few of DeWitt's comments made to some folks at Webster University yesterday:
DeWitt allowed that "there’s a question about what percentage of your payroll you can give one guy. That’s the fundamental question with (Pujols)."
"We’ll definitely push, scratch and probably get beyond our comfort level and try to make something work with him," DeWitt said. "I’m hoping that’s good enough. He knows the iconic players of any generation typically stay with one team if you look at the history of baseball."
The wrench in this situation between the Cardinals and Pujols is the following:
The club believes the window before next season the optimum time to negotiate an extension. Pujols, who currently enjoys a partial no-trade provision in his contract, achieves full no-trade protection when he reaches 10 years’ major-league service time after the 2010 season.
So Pujols is standing his ground, as it appears the Cardinals want to negotiate the extension this offseason, with the chance that they decide they can't sign him long-term, they have the power to deal him anywhere. But once the 2010 season is over, Pujols has the no-trade protection, so he has put the Cardinals in a position to put up or shut up this offseason. Pujols holds all the "Cards" and they know it.
This could be a very interesting offseason should the Cardinals do something crazy and make Pujols available.
These final comments make me think the Cardinals may have made their decision already:
"We can pay Albert $95 million per year and give $5 million to the rest of the guys, but how good would we be? We’d have minor leaguers out there and Albert," DeWitt said. "We can make it work. It’s just at what point does it become counterproductive at a competitive standpoint in terms of one player. That’s the balancing act. That’s not a set number.
"But we do know at a certain kind of range on an annual basis it gets beyond a rational decision. I’m hopeful. I think he understands."