As I suggested yesterday, with Albert Pujols out for four to six weeks with a wrist/forearm break, it has become even harder to see a team like the Chicago Cubs willing to commit the kind of dough necessary to sign the 31-year-old slugger long term.

Gordon Wittenmyer, who has steadfastly claimed the Cubs will not have the money to pursue any big name free agents, let alone Pujols, agrees that the injury diminishes the likelihood that the Cubs go after Pujols (which, yes, is a seemingly contradictory position).

Whatever Albert Pujols’ broken forearm means to the St. Louis Cardinals’ chances of reaching the playoffs this year, consider it one more likely reason he won’t reach the Cubs as a free agent next year.

His projected contract demands already cost-prohibitive, the injury casts at least doubt on his fitness for a long-term deal, even if he returns in decent form after four to six weeks on the disabled list.

Anything short of that could start dropping his negotiating strength toward the Cubs’ appetite (albeit, requiring a long drop). But that also would suggest damaged goods.

Cubs officials, some of whom shared hugs and handshakes with Pujols when the Cardinals visited Wrigley Field last month, won’t discuss specifics about Pujols or their free-agent plans.

An interesting point that I expect to explore in the coming months after Pujols returns from his injury: the Cardinals are going to be in the best position to know how much his injury should impact his next contract, so every other pursuing team should (will?) take their lead in the amount to offer.

In addition to his performance on the field, which everyone will be able to see, the Cardinals will have complete access to his medical records commensurate with those records being created. And they’ll get the first crack at trying to re-sign him. Put those two things together, and you get one conclusion: if the Cards don’t offer Pujols a mega-extension, you better hope the Cubs don’t try to top whatever the Cards do offer.

  • Spencer

    I guess my counter argument to that last paragraph would be that the Cards didn’t even offer Pujols the “mega-extension” (or at least the type of money that he wanted) prior to the season starting, but I’m sure no one would have complained or raised any questions if the Cubs or another team offered him more money had he been a free agent last off season.

    It would be very odd indeed if the Cards made a higher offer than they already did in this upcoming off season, given his injury and their prior reluctance to do so when he was completely healthy. So I guess my point is even if the Cards offer the same amount of money this off season as they did last, that shouldn’t automatically throw up a red flag and make all other teams weary that his injury is going to be a long term detriment to his production.

    What WOULD be a concern is if the Cards make a lower offer than they already did. But I don’t see that happening. And I still wouldn’t be concerned if the Cubs made a higher offer than St. Louis is willing to make because STL has already proven that might not be willing to spend the amount of money that is necessary to sign Pujols.

    • Ace

      I think we sort of agree, though I’d add that the expectation before the injury is that the Cards would up their offer at the end of the year. If they don’t up it now, there’s a reason to be concerned.

      • pfk

        Can you imagine if the Cards cut the offer in half? Or just offered him a job coaching their “A”ball team. Actually, by the time he gets back, he’ll have a month and half (or more) to strut his stuff. There will be few secrets.

  • Caleb

    I’ve been thinking that Fielder is a better target, but the thought of stealing Albert from the dumb Cardinals just gets me all [insert inappropriate boner metaphor]. Except I suppose that if we overpaid him and he became less-Pujolsian (look it up) the joke would be on us.

    If the Cardinals think that their path to keeping Pujols just got easier, I say the Cubs make it harder and run the bidding up on him so that they Cardinals have to commit a ton of money to keep him around. Then they won’t have enough money to build a team around him and we’ll all laugh.

    So basically, just offer him a lot of money. If he takes it, we get Albert Pujols. If he doesn’t, the Cardinals keep him but have no money. Success.