The Cardinals reportedly made a nine-year, $210 million contract offer to first baseman Albert Pujols before the start of the 2011 season. That amounts to a $23.3 million annual salary, which is less than Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Howard, Cliff Lee and CC Sabathia will make in 2012 and beyond.
Aware that his client has been more productive than all of the names above, agent Dan Lozano declined that proposal and steered Albert’s eyes toward the free agent market. And that’s where we stand today.
Pujols, already considered one of the greatest hitters of all time and undoubtedly more feared than A-Rod or Howard, is free to sign with any team he chooses.
But will he enough suitors to land the kind of deal he wants? Perhaps not.
According to SI.com’s Jon Heyman, the Cardinals don’t plan on sweetening the offer they made in the spring unless forced to by a competing bid. And that competing bid, so far, hasn’t arrived.
The Marlins met with Pujols in Miami this weekend and even made an offer, but Joe Frisaro of MLB.com was told that the number “probably isn’t close enough” to lure Albert away from St. Louis.
The Orioles singlehandedly kept the rumor mill churning this weekend. MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports that the club is interested in making a play for free agent right-hander Lance Lynn, adding him to a list of potential candidates that also includes free agent righty Alex Cobb. The two are expected to command similar contracts in free agency, but Morosi notes that the Orioles may prefer Cobb based on his familiarity with the AL East.
Lynn, 30, is two years removed from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. Despite missing the 2016 season, he bounced back with a respectable 11-8 record in 33 starts and complemented his efforts with a 3.43 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 7.4 SO/9 over 186 1/3 innings for the 2017 Cardinals. He lost several days with a blister on his pitching hand in early September, but managed to avoid any major injuries and can reasonably be expected to shoulder another heavy workload in 2018.
Lynn may not be the Orioles’ first choice to beef up their starting rotation, but there’s no doubt that he’ll be in high demand as one of very few viable starters on the market this winter. The veteran righty rejected his one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Cardinals on Thursday and will likely be seeking a multi-year contract, one that Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch estimates around five years and $100+ million. If the Orioles are willing to bite that bullet, they’ll still need to compensate the Cardinals with their third pick in next year’s draft.