Opinion: Pujols contract saga surprising twist


Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: an athlete who is entering the final year of his contract is threatening to test the free agent market if his team doesn’t give him $30 million a year.  Naturally, one would assume the athlete I’m referring to in this situation is someone like Alex Rodriguez or Manny Ramirez. However, this time the latest athlete who turned down a $200 million contract is none other than Albert Pujols.  Pujols, who is entering the final season of his contract, had set a deadline to get a new deal done before spring training.

Albert Pujols burst onto the scene with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2001, where he batted .329 with 37 home runs and 130 RBI, finishing fourth in the NL MVP voting and first in the NL Rookie of the Year voting.  Since then, Pujols has never hit less than 32 home runs or batted lower than .312 in a season, and has finished in the top three in MVP voting in eight of the last nine seasons; winning three.  In addition to all those gaudy numbers, he won a World Series in 2006.

The difference between Albert Pujols and the rest of the superstars in MLB was that he never really complained about the amount of money he was being paid.  The average superstar usually complains about something.

Most baseball insiders predicted that Pujols would stay true to St. Louis and sign an extension or a new contract that would keep him a Cardinal for the rest of his career.  If Pujols stays in St. Louis, he will more than likely rewrite the Cardinals’ record books and surpass Stan Musial as the greatest Cardinal ever.

While I do respect Pujols and all that he has done since entering the league, the way he is going about these contract negotiations is completely out of character for him.  Pujols has managed to avoid controversy since entering the league, yet this contract dispute paints him in a whole new light.  What’s wrong with accepting an eight-year contract for $200 million?  By the time the contract would have been over, Pujols would be 39 years old and probably closing in on 1,000 career home runs and 6,000 RBI. (Which is an estimate, but probably attainable.) Now that Pujols has turned down the Cardinals’ offer, it shows that he is just the typical greedy athlete, one who is playing baseball for the love of money and not for the love of the game.  Once Pujols enters free agency, teams are going to be lining up to talk to him and throw money his way.

If Pujols wants to save his reputation, he will re-sign with the Cardinals, whether that be during the season or after it.  Otherwise, he is just like every other greedy, overpaid athlete.