Albert Pujols needs to make a decision.

According to multiple reports, the big-time free agent first baseman has a couple 10-year, $200+ million offers from the Miami Marlins and the St. Louis Cardinals, as well as a short-term offer from the Chicago Cubs, and a possible fourth offer from the ever-lurking (and usually fictitious) “mystery team.” And Pujols’ failure to make a decision on one of those offers is probably causing issues for teams all around baseball.

In other words, upon reflection on the lack of moves so far league-wide (this week was supposed to be one of the most active Winter Meetings in recent memory), I can only conclude: Pujols is holding everything up.

Not only are a handful of teams waiting directly on him, but several free agents who want to land with those teams are waiting to know if the team will have the money or the position for them. And other teams who want those players then also have to wait. And teams are waiting on possible trades with the Marlins. And Prince Fielder is waiting on Pujols to set the market. And various teams are waiting on Fielder. And other players are waiting on the teams that are waiting on Fielder. And various free agent pitchers are waiting on the Marlins. And various other teams are waiting on those pitchers. … I could go on and on.

No team wants to lock into anything now until they know who’s going to be available, and at what price. A lot of those dominoes are preceded by Pujols, and it bleeds into teams that aren’t even remotely interested in Pujols. Coming into the Meetings, few believed there was any chance Pujols would not be returning to St. Louis, and teams thus planned accordingly. Now everything is all out of whack.

An extreme example (of the thought experiment variety, not the actual rumor variety) of how Pujols’ decision holds up the Cubs? The Cubs can’t trade for Chase Headley until Pujols signs. Why? If Pujols goes to the Marlins, they might make Matt Dominguez available for Carlos Zambrano and a bunch of cash. Maybe the Cubs would prefer that to Headley. Maybe not. But they won’t know for sure until those discussions can take place, and those discussions can’t take place until Pujols signs.

You could concoct this kind of example for literally every other team in baseball.

In short: Albert Pujols needs to make a decision. Until he does, or at least makes clear what direction he’s eventually going to end up going, it seems like moves around the game – and in Chicago – are going to be restricted.



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