Would a blockbuster Pujols deal work?
WARNING: What you are about to read is pure speculation. It has not, to my knowledge, been discussed at any level. In fact, it is not even my idea.
Harold Reynolds mentioned the possibility Monday on MLB Network. My colleague, Jon Paul Morosi, informed me of it later that night. I then stole the idea from Morosi as if I were Lindsay Lohan in a jewelry store.
Albert Pujols for Mark Teixeira.
And, if that doesn’t work, Pujols for Ryan Howard.
Think it’s nuts? Think again.
Pujols for Teixeira is a way out for the Cardinals, who are running out of time in their quest to meet Pujols’ deadline for a new contract by the start of spring training.
Teixeira for Pujols also is a way out for the Yankees, who lost the offseason to the Red Sox and need a major splash to divert attention from their scary-thin rotation.
Heck, the deal even would be a way out for Pujols, who not only would get his money, but also would leave St. Louis with his reputation intact. His parting gift to the Cardinals would be Teixeira, a first baseman who is nearly at his level.
The Yankees could agree to pay Pujols $30 million per season as a condition of the trade; they’re already paying Teixeira $22.5 million annually, and they’re the geniuses who caused all this trouble by awarding the sun, the moon and the stars to Alex Rodriguez, to the tune of $27.5 million a year.
If the Yankees acquired Pujols, they would effectively counter the Red Sox’s acquisition of Adrian Gonzalez — and then some. Heck, they might even start filling those expensive seats in the lower deck of Yankee Stadium, the ones that are about as affordable as Dubai.
The Cardinals also would be huge winners, landing a worthy replacement for Pujols, 31, at a more reasonable price. Teixeira, who turns 31 in April, is owed $135 million over the next six years — a contract the Cardinals gladly would give Pujols if only he would agree to a discount, which he most certainly will not.
There’s a catch. Of course, there’s a catch. But I’ve even got an answer to the catch, that human roadblock who represents Teixeira, Scott Boras.
Pujols, represented by Dan Lozano, has enough service time to veto any trade. Judging from his current stance, he is comfortable leaving St. Louis for the right price. I’m guessing for Yankee money, he’d bolt now.
Teixeira would be a tougher sell. He chose the Yankees as a free agent. He probably would not want to leave. And he, too, is armed with a no-trade clause.
For Teixeira to even consider a deal, he would need to be, uh, properly recognized. As in properly compensated. As in extended, perhaps at least two more years at some monster number, say $27 million per year.
Boras, who also represents the Cardinals’ other big-money slugger, left fielder Matt Holliday, could “work” with the Cardinals to defer part of Holliday’s contract; Holliday already has said in an interview with ESPN Radio he would defer money for Pujols.
The Cardinals would live happily ever after.
Of course, with Boras, it’s never that easy. The Cardinals would need a fallback position. Which is where the Phillies enter the picture.
Teixeira is a switch-hitter and better defender than Howard, but Howard wouldn’t be a bad alternative. He’s a native of St. Louis, one of the game’s most prolific sluggers. Cardinals fans might find him even easier to embrace than Teixeira, who is a little bland and robotic.
The Phillies, meanwhile, would kill to make such a deal. Pujols in Citizens Bank Park would be even more frightening than Pujols in Yankee Stadium. And don’t talk to me about money.
The Phils keep telling us they’re maxed out financially, then go add another $20 million ace. They actually would save $4 million this season in a Howard-for-Pujols exchange. They could use that money to keep right-hander Joe Blanton or perhaps make other moves.
If the Phillies do not yet regret their remaining six-year, $145 million commitment to Howard, they might soon; Howard, 31, is a big man who could decline rapidly. The Phils would be better off paying Pujols more money on a longer deal.
Howard also has a limited no-trade clause, the details of which are not known. Not to worry; the Cardinals would have other potential partners if they could not reach agreement with either the Yankees or Phillies.
The Tigers owe Miguel Cabrera $106 million over the next five years, though that deal suddenly looks good for the club — Cabrera is not yet 28 — and Pujols might balk at a deal to Detroit.
Then there are the Red Sox. Sources say they are set to sign Gonzalez to a seven-year, $164 million extension, but will wait until after Opening Day to announce the deal, enabling them to save on the luxury tax.
Think the Sox would renege on Gonzalez if they could trade him for Pujols — and keep Pujols away from the Yankees? We all should be so jilted as Gonzalez would be in such a scenario. He would still get his money, only it would be from St. Louis, not Boston.
The Cardinals need to snap to attention while they still retain a measure of control. They will lose that control if Pujols becomes a free agent. And there is one more advantage to the idea of a trade, an advantage that should seal all but the deal.
Trade Pujols, and he won’t become a Cub.