Towards the end of this offseason, there were a lot of rumblings about Albert Pujols and his need for a contract extension.
Pujols has said throughout that he wants to remain with the St. Louis Cardinals and that he would not deal with the contract once spring training had started. Although Pujols took the noble path of not allowing the contract to interfere with the current season, there was no agreement met between the two parties.
Now that spring training has officially started, the Cardinals have a much greater issue to deal with, which is the season ending injury of Cy Young Award hopeful Adam Wainwright.
Perhaps, with this early season ending injury to Wainwright and the unsettled issue of Pujols’ contract, it is time for the the Cardinals to move Pujols in order to begin to rebuild.
There has been talk about Pujols being able to see a contract as high as $30 MM after this season and if he desired money anywhere close to that, he will no longer be a Cardinal.
It may be best that the Cardinals deal Pujols now. The Cardinals are in need of a starter to replace Wainwright for this season and perhaps Chris Carpenter for next season. There is an option on Carpenter for next season.
Carpenter is still certainly an ace, who last year pitched for an ERA of 3.22 with 16 wins, nine losses, 179 strikeouts and a WHIP of 1.18, but since he will be 36 next season, who knows if the option on Carpenter will be acted on. The Cardinals could very well be in need a of new starter for next season, depending on what happens with Carpenter, but they will definitely need one for this season to replace Wainwright.
If the Cardinals did deal Pujols, they would be able to have Lance Berkman play first base, as it is his natural position. Although Berkman may only be able to fill that hole for a season, he would make a good replacement for this season. Also, the Cardinals have a good depth when it comes to replacing a first basemen and an outfielder.
Pujols would be missed in the lineup for sure, but his market would be big. It would be better for the Cardinals to replace Wainwright by dealing Pujols than it would be for the Cardinals to hold Pujols and look at the free agency or farm system to replace Wainwright.
Loosing Wainwright is a worse blow to the Cardinals than it would be for them to lose Pujols. The time may have come where the Cardinals should deal Pujols and allow their team to rebuild for the future and have a chance at competition for this season as well.