Would Mets Bid for Albert Pujols?

According to the St. Louis Dispatch, the Cardinals have begun discussing a contract extension with Albert Pujols. Per most reports, Pujols wants to get something done before spring training begins, and if nothing gets done before ST, he prefers not to talk contract at all until after the 2011 season — when he has the opportunity to become a free agent.

Though it appears that the Cards and Pujols will indeed get something done before Valentine’s Day, one never knows — as of this moment, his contract ends at the conclusion of the ’11 season. And if Albert Pujols became a free agent, would the Mets be in the bidding?

Considering Pujols’ status as The Best Player in Baseball, his price tag would be high. Very high. So high, in fact, that only a small handful of teams could afford it. The Yankees and Red Sox come to mind immediately, of course. But both of those teams already have outstanding first basemen with long-term contracts in place (we’re assuming that the Bosox and Adrian Gonzalez have a gentlemen’s agreement in place for an extension). The Phillies suddenly are big spenders, but they have Ryan Howard entrenched at first. The next “big market” clubs would be the Dodgers and Cubs, I suppose. The Nats, no doubt, would be in play. And the Mets, of course. Remember, no matter what Sandy Alderson says publicly, they DO play in the media capital of the world, so by default they’d have to at least consider the possibility of making a bid.

And why wouldn’t they? There will be some $40M – $60M coming off the books after 2011. Sandy Alderson insists the team won’t spend it all, and won’t lock into any long-term deals, but this isn’t Jayson Werth or Adrian Beltre — this is Albert Pujols. It would seem that a team losing Carlos Beltran and likely Jose Reyes would be in the market to make up that production — rebuilding or not — and they could make up for both players by signing one, if that player is Pujols.

I know at least one of you is going to want to mention Ike Davis in the comments. Please try to refrain from doing so, as I can’t afford to break my neck after falling off my chair in laughter. Don’t get me wrong — I like Ike — but I wouldn’t pass on an opportunity to obtain the most productive offensive player in MLB because of Ike. Rather, I’d look at Ike as a surplus trading chip who can be flipped to fill a whole elsewhere on the field (or mound).

Let’s get something else straight: I can’t stand Albert Pujols. I might hate him, even. Having him put on a Mets uniform would be similar — to me — to the day Tom Glavine signed with the Mets, and the day the Roberto Alomar trade was announced. It would feel all wrong. It would genuinely anger me. My heart would not be into it; but my mind would understand why it made sense.

Likely, Pujols will command a contract that calls for $25M-$30M per season, and he’ll probably want — and get — at least a 6- to 7-year deal (maybe more). He’ll be 32 years old when the 2012 season begins, and if you believe he is, and will remain, 100% clean, there is a strong possibility that his skills will deteriorate as he nears and passes his mid-30s. Considering that Pujols has hit 40+ HRs and posted an OPS over 1.000 in each of the past two years suggests that even with a dropoff in production, he’d still be better than most — it’s reasonable to suspect he’d drop to “only” 30 HR and an .875-.925 OPS, which is about where David Wright performed in 2008. Though, there is also the possibility that his skills erode dramatically, the way they did for Robin Ventura at age 32.

It’s probably a complete fantasy, but if it turns out that Albert Pujols is a free agent next winter, could you see the Mets getting into the bidding? Would you want them to sign him? Or would you be fine with the Nationals swooping in and making the biggest splash in their short history? Why or why not?

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. metsfan73 January 7, 2011 at 10:00 am
    I can’ t see Alderson sinking hundreds of millions of dollars into one player that might only be worth part of that contract for three years. Pujols is all world, but signing someone to a probable seven year deal at 32 is not wise.
    Granted, there is a difference between pitchers and position players, but look what has happened to Johan, and he is only in year four of a seven year deal.
    As for Ventura, his problems weren’t that his skills eroded, more that his body broke down. After his career ended, he had to have that bad ankle fused.
    • Joe Janish January 7, 2011 at 12:06 pm
      Part of the reason Ventura’s skills eroded were because of the injuries. His bat speed and fielding range both fell off dramatically from age 32 on. It was a combination of injuries and aging. Maybe if he took HGH and steroids when that happened, we’d be discussing his Hall of Fame induction right now.
  2. Mike January 7, 2011 at 11:27 am
    You might be thinking I’ve shown up after a long lay off just to shout about building from within and Ike Davis is Truth etc. You’d be wrong.

    I live in Stl now and nothing would please me more than to stick it in the craw of “the past fans in baseball” by stealing their golden boy. Not only that, but as much as I like Ike, I realize he isn’t likely a centerpiece player unless he’s the centerpiece of a trade that brings in a starting pitcher about to make a ton of money. Pujols has not been his usual self but that doesn’t mean he won’t be the best hitter in baseball with a good glove the next five years. Only an idiot would not take this chance.

    • Joe Janish January 7, 2011 at 12:01 pm
      Mike, welcome back!

      I hear St. Louis is a “baseball town” so hope you enjoy the new digs. Don’t let the swarming red shirts brainwash you during this vulnerable time with the orange and blue.

      • Mike January 10, 2011 at 11:17 am
        Thanks Joe! I took time off from posted because I didn’t feel I had much to add, plus I sort of took time off to enjoy the football season before getting emotionally involved in the Mets again.

        Anyway I clearly meant to say “the best fans in baseball” and I clearly was being sarcastic. Yes, pretty much everyone here is a baseball fan and knows a surprising amount about the Cardinals, but walking around with my Mets merch I get more strange looks than I did while in Philly. To them it is not a question of who your team is, but why it isn’t our beloved Cardinals. If 2006 had not happened I don’t think I would care much. Most found that as payback for 2000.

  3. heybatter January 7, 2011 at 12:00 pm
    Spend the $40 mil on pitching….that’s what wins.
    • Joe Janish January 7, 2011 at 12:02 pm
      Didn’t the Mets spend close to $40M on Oliver Perez? And the Brewers spent about the same on Jeff Suppan?

      Pitching wins, but spending for it generally doesn’t — particularly in the free agent market, where most free agents are on the wrong side of 30.

  4. NormE January 7, 2011 at 12:53 pm
    I know we like to dream (we’re Mets fans) but I really find it hard to believe that St. Louis would let Pujols go. If their offer
    is “in the ballpark” I think he would stay. However, if Tony L.
    leaves one wonders if that would factor in Albert’s decision to stay or leave.
    Giving him a long-term contract is the problem, not Ike Davis.
  5. Andy January 7, 2011 at 1:37 pm
    I’ll pass. Too old, too risky. I’d rather see a young, hungry, scrappy team fight for wins than be stuck with the Mets circa 2001~2004, with aging, rotting superstars clogging the field and the payroll.
  6. mooshinator January 7, 2011 at 1:40 pm
    I definitely don’t want to see something like this happen. I’d be happy to be proven wrong, but a 7-year deal at over $25M+ annually for a 32-year old player makes me *really* nervous.

    Using Joe’s example, let’s say that Pujols drops off to 2008 David Wright levels. Would David Wright have been worth $25M+ in 2008?

  7. canonizer January 7, 2011 at 3:08 pm
    The mets have consistently refrained from any bidding wars, excepting only Beltran, as far as I can remember. I don’t know if this is a top down policy or if Minaya’s lack of engagement was self-imposed.

    That said – I don’t think they need to get into a bidding war in order to justify their existence. They could, at the very least, make an OFFER that they believe to be fair.

    @mooshinator, you’d be paying pujols in 2015+ dollars, which means you need to adjust wright’s 2008 numbers for that period. i suspect that the $/win would justify 5-6M/w but I am always a leery of the dollar allocation statistics, if only because of the downward pressures on salary during a player’s rookie lockup seasons.

    • Andy January 7, 2011 at 3:16 pm
      Not sure what you mean about bidding wars. The Mets frequently seemed to be bidding against themselves when no one else seemed to be involved – e.g., Ollie Perez, Luis Castillo, Francisco Rodriguez, Jason Bay, Alex Cora, etc., etc.

      If anything, that seems to be worse than a traditional Yankees v. BoSox bidding war. When real competitors are bidding on the same contract, at least you know the contract will be worth something, even if you end up overpaying to come out on top. The Mets’ MO the past several seasons seems to be engaging in bidding wars against themselves.

  8. canonizer January 7, 2011 at 3:45 pm
    Andy – I agree, bidding against yourself is certainly worst kind of bidding war. I’m surprised whenever I encounter someone defending mets’ policy. As you point out, the mets go after veterans at or above replacement level, who subsequently under perform in the new ballpark (this is especially true for mediocre power hitters, most likely). The “policy” of not offering long term contracts to the BEST players is both silly and short sighted, as compared to offering medium term contracts to mediocre ball players.

    It seems as though bidding on the yankee/red sox acquisitions makes sense. Maybe some of the super star free agents would want to play here. In the past 20 years, I can only recall the mets signing the following hyped free agents: Bobby Bonilla, Mike Piazza and Carlos Beltran. They traded & extended Santana.

  9. Rob January 7, 2011 at 4:25 pm
    Signing Pujols and getting rid of Ike would be akin to the Mets trading for Piazza and letting Todd Huntley go. Everyone loved Huntley, but no one could dispute that Piazza was a deal you couldn’t pass up. No dispute that the Mets would make that deal if it were realistically possible. Of course, I still question any team that invests a quarter to half a billion in one player; how many teams have actually won when doing so (other than the Yankees). There’s simply no room in the payroll for the supporting characters, unless your payroll rises to astronomical levels. I’m not sure how the Cardinals will be able to afford to keep him…or how any team other than the Yankees, Red Sox or Angels will be able to pay him.

    And by the way…I hate him too. But when he put the Mets uniform on, I’d find a way to overcome my prejudice.

    • Andy January 7, 2011 at 8:03 pm
      Not really the same. Piazza was only 29 when he joined the Mets. Pujols would be 32. That is an important 3 years.

      Anyway, Cot’s says Pujols’ no-trade is “limited”. If the Cards can’t reach a deal with him, then somebody else will probably trade and extend. The Mets would never be able to scrape together a package good enough to do that . . .

  10. gary s. January 7, 2011 at 6:24 pm
    too old for a 7 year deal, and joe janish will be backing up josh thole before the mets would pay him 200 mill for 7 years..The Wilnots shelling out 200 mill for a guy who never played for the brooklyn dodgers???? never happen.
  11. mrtasan January 7, 2011 at 11:10 pm
    dont you pay more for an elite position player than you do a pitcher?

    i think mets front office (in the past) did not understand that history does not mean future…so if someone hit 30 homers 3 years ago it doesn’t mean they will next year…obviously they had no idea how to forecast. For some reason you knew Omar didn’t know anything about math. Just last year he was bragging about addition by subtraction???

    hopefully this front office wont make the same mistake.

    • Joe Janish January 8, 2011 at 12:30 am
      Yes agreed 100% — the Minaya front office overvalued history and expected / hoped players would perform as they did in the past.

      To be fair to Omar, the “addition by subtraction” was a direct quote from Jeff Wilpon.

      I don’t think this front office will make the mistake of paying for past success. But will they make the mistake of NOT paying for future success? We’ll see.

  12. Jokeman January 8, 2011 at 9:11 am
    Ike played quite a bit of right field in college and is known for a having a very strong arm so perhaps he could be moved there if this dream of Pujols came true.
    • Joe Janish January 8, 2011 at 10:19 pm
      Good point. Though considering his lumbering feet, my guess is he’d be about as effective as Adam Dunn in the OF.

      On another note, but related to his arm strength, the Mets might also consider using Ike out of the bullpen as their LOOGY. Unlikely, but more likely of happening than the Mets getting Pujols next winter.

  13. gary s. January 8, 2011 at 9:19 am
    like most mets free agent signings, the dream would soon turn into a nightmare.Now, if Pujols got hurt or better yet needed Tommy John surgery, Alderson would sign him up in a NY minute