If the Cardinals couldn’t re-sign Albert Pujols and hoped, at the very least, they could trade him in a blockbuster deal then they’re out of luck. That’s because Pujols would exercise his no-trade clause on any potential deal.
From ESPN’s Buster Olney:
The Cardinals have never really pursued any of that trade discussion.
But no matter what happens in the last days of negotiations before Pujols arrives at the Cardinals’ camp in spring training, the slugger will not be traded.
The understanding within the St. Louis front office is that Pujols will not accept any trade going forward, according to sources. He has the right to veto any trade proposal, and would do so.
This means there are only two possible results in the negotiations in the Pujols talks: Either he signs a contract extension with the Cardinals, or he will become a free agent this coming fall.
As Olney points out, the Cardinals’ choices in this situation are expensive in different ways. If they sign him, his new contract will be in the neighborhood of 10 years and $275 million. If they can’t come to terms with Albert, then the backlash from fans will be enormous.
This is why most fans complain about there not being a salary cap in baseball. It’s not easy for mid-market teams like St. Louis to just say, “You want $300 million, Albert? Done.” The Cardinals have an entire roster to think about and they don’t have the payroll flexibility like the Yankees or Red Sox do. They’re stuck. Either they pay Pujols and potentially are cash-strapped for the next 10 years, or they let him walk and hope fans won’t burn down Busch Stadium.
It’s not like Pujols isn’t worth the money. If any current player is worth $300 million, it’s him. He’s the best pure hitter in the game and no disrespect to players like Matt Holliday, but Pujols is also the Cardinals’ lineup. But again, they continue to be faced with a huge dilemma when it comes to their payroll options.