Now that the Cardinals have signed Matt Holliday to the largest contract in Cardinals history, the talk will move from Holliday to Albert Pujols. Let the Albert Pujols speculation begin!!
Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune has already trotted out rumors about the Yankees and Red Sox making room on their rosters for the possibility of Pujols hitting free agency. Here is an excerpt from his Sunday article:
Pujols is talking a good game with the Cardinals. But can he really ignore the 10-year, $27.5 million-per-year deal that Alex Rodriguez got from the Yankees two years ago, when he was older than Pujols will be when his contract ends after the 2011 season? The difficulties tying up Fielder and Gonzalez with the Brewers and Padres are self-evident.
Nothing happens in a vacuum, including the relative lack of spending by the Yankees and Red Sox this offseason. Executives with other clubs believe baseball's two biggest spenders are sitting out the Matt Holliday sweepstakes because they want as much flexibility as possible to land one of baseball's four horsemen at some point in the next two years.
The four horsemen are Pujols, Joe Mauer, Prince Fielder and Adrian Gonzalez, all of who will become free agents after the 2011 season. You can add Ryan Howard to that list as well.
What will be interesting going forward, is whether the Cardinals will be able to sign Albert Pujols after the 2011 season. There will be much speculation as to whether Pujols wants to re-sign with the Cardinals, and how much he would command in free agency. Should Pujols hit free agency, you can expect the big market clubs, the Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers, Cubs, Angels, Phillies and others to have interest.
I personally think Pujols will sign a long term extension with the Cardinals, and more than likely approach $200 million total contract value. I could see an 8 year $200 million contract as the starting point for negotiations.