We all knew this was coming – if for no other reason than to annoy the crap out of St. Louis Cardinals fans – but the Chicago Cubs formally made contact with representatives of free agent first baseman Albert Pujols. The three-time MVP is represented by Dan Lozano and while discussions are said to be in the early stages, Chicago appears set to get in on the bidding for the nine-time All-Star.
Pujols is currently being pursued by the Miami Marlins and the Cardinals, and now Cubs president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer are apparently looking to join the fun.
The Cubs are also said to be pursuing Milwaukee Brewers free agent first baseman Prince Fielder, though one would assume he represents the backup plan if Pujols can’t be had.
The Texas Rangers have also been rumored as a potential spot Pujols could end up and the Washington Nationals are actively trying to get Fielder to head east.
Pujols turns 32 in January and is coming off a pedestrian season by his standards. After a slow start he finished the season hitting .299 with 37 home runs and 99 RBI. He also led the Cardinals to their second World Series title in five years.
The Cardinals offered Pujols a nine-year contract worth nearly $200 million in the spring and he rebuffed that deal. That means he’ll probably want even more now that he’s on the open market.
I really don’t see how the Cubs can afford to pay him upwards of $30 million a year when they are still saddled with the horrible contracts they gave Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Zambrano. No one will take either of those guys off the Cubs’ ledger unless the franchise agrees to pay the bulk of either player’s salary.
Still the fact that the Cubs are in the door on Pujols should concern Cardinals fans and make them start to worry that the big guy may actually be considering walking away from the franchise.