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MLB Trade Rumors: Albert Pujols, Francisco Liriano, Bryce Harper and Other Offseason Thoughts

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There have been plenty of stories written about whether or not the Cardinals will sign Albert Pujols to a long term contract, and some are blaming Pujols for added a start of spring training deadline for the new deal. My response to them is the Cardinals had since the beginning of October 2010 to discuss his contract with him, and they know that Pujols probably would not want the contract discussions to distract him during spring training, so I think the blame should go to the Cardinals owners who have sat on their hands in the contract negotiations, or so it appears.

Speaking of Pujols, some baseball writers are openly questioning his true age. Add Keith Law and SB Nation's Rob Neyer to the list. Are there any others? Could the question about his age be the reason why the Cardinals are rumored to only want to give him a 7 year deal?

More after the jump, including Buster Olney's projection for Adrian Gonzalez:

Last Thursday, Twins beat writer Joe Christenson wrote this article at the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, stating that the Twins could deal starter Francisco Liriano:

With six pitchers vying for five spots in the Twins starting rotation, one possible solution is trading Francisco Liriano. Speaking to team officials recently, I've been surprised how open they are to this possibility, but the logic makes sense.

I assume the reason the Twins are open to dealing Liriano is two-fold-1. money, and 2. Liriano is an injury risk. Plus, the Twins have pitching prospect Kyle Gibson who is close to being major league ready to fill his rotation spot should the Twins trade him. Gibson pitched at 3 levels in 2010, with his last 3 starts in AAA. He probably needs at least a half season in AAA before he is ready to pitch in the big leagues.

It is safe to assume that the Yankees will get involved should the Twins decide to dangle Liriano on the trade market. Does Jesus Montero get the deal done? Or a package with Manny Banuelos and Brandon Laird?

The Nationals are looking at the possibility of Bryce Harper starting the 2012 season on the big league roster, and I wrote about it over at Minor League Ball today (scheduled for 3pm EST). Head on over and check out my thoughts on this development.

Speaking of the Nationals, starter Stephen Strasburg has already started throwing after having Tommy John surgery last summer. Some think he could get a few starts in September. Why the rush?

Buster Olney wrote a blog post on his 8 breakout players for 2011, and here is the list:

Shaun Marcum, MIL

Clayton Kershaw, LAD

Adrian Gonzalez, BOS

Brian Matusz, BAL

Rick Porcello, DET

Carlos Santana, CLE

Brian Duensing, MIN

Daniel Hudson, ARI

I agree with most on this list, but I think AGonz has already broken out, but Olney thinks he will have a monster season in the Boston lineup. Actually, if AGonz meets Olney's projections for him, he will be the #1 player taken in fantasy drafts in 2012. From his blog article:

Gonzalez has been an All-Star caliber player for awhile, but this may well be the year when he puts up crazy, ridiculous numbers. If he finishes the year at .320/48/145, it shouldn't be a surprise.