ATLANTA - FILE: Albert Pujols #5 of the St. Louis Cardinals against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field on September 9 2010 in Atlanta Georgia. It was announced that the St. Louis Cardinals and their first baseman Albert Pujols failed to reach a contract agreement by Pujols' self-declared deadline leaving open the chance he will become a free agent after this season February 16 2011. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
We have yet to see a clear cut front runner for either big slugger as Jon Morosi points out. Of course the Chicago Cubs are not the New York Yankees. To take on the payroll of $50-60 million for two players would be difficult for a majority of teams, but think about this:
Albert Pujols has played 101 games at third base, including 6 in the previous season. Now, he does have only 19 errors logged and a -1.6 UZR according to Fangraphs at that time, but we've seen teams pay out more for worse.
In 86 career games at Wrigley, Pujols has belted 26 HR with a .298 average. In 49 career games, Fielder has 11 HR also with a .298 average. Furthermore, with supposedly 40 inter-league games approaching, the Cubs could shift one of them to DH at that time, and play only one of Fielder or Pujols at their natural 1B position.
After lowering payroll nearly $10 million from 2010, the Cubs will be shedding close to $25 million in the contracts of current corner infielders, Carlos Pena and Aramis Ramirez. Matt Garza, who has rumored to be on the trading block does have a team friendly $6 million plus two years of team control ahead of him. The bigger question stands with the farm system. As Ken Rosenthal points out, the new CBA restricts the Cubs from doing what they have long planned; build the farm system with intentional players. The market is not terribly huge for a declining LF with a $20 million contract until 2014 and a problem pitcher owed $40 million over the next two years, but what if the Cubs can find suitors and replenish their farm system.
All of this is a huge long shot, but what better way for Theo Epstein to make a splash?
Who do you think would be a better fit for the Cubs?