Dreaming of Albert Pujols as a Brave (but it’s a budget killer)

There goes another home run by Albert Pujols, who'll soon be up for bidding.

There goes another home run by Albert Pujols, who'll soon be up for bidding.

It appears the St. Louis Cardinals’ Albert Pujols will become a free agent after this baseball season, which almost certainly means we are on the verge of seeing a new record contract in baseball, as well as the next magazine cover: “Albert Inc. and the Lesser 499 of the Fortune 500.”

The other day, I threw out “a guy can dream” joke about the Braves making a bid for Pujols. Should’ve known but about a dozen folks sent me emails (and other notes on Facebook or Twitter) asking if I really th0ught that would or could happen. The short answer: no.

Pujols obviously is a great player, and first base has been a black hole for the Braves since I think Joe Adcock left. (Kids: Google). The latest hope is that prospect Freddie Freeman turns into the next great thing. If that happens, the organization is set at first for a while.

But this is Albert Pujols, the best player in the game. There aren’t that many players who immediately can turn a team into a contender. He’s one of them. Imagine the Braves’ infield of the future: Pujols at first, Dan Uggla at second, anybody at short and Martin Prado at third. Add Brian McCann and Jason Heyward and you’ve got as good a lineup as this city has seen in a while.

But the issue is money. Here’s how it breaks down.

First, the good news:

Kenshin Kawakami ($7.3 million) and Nate McLouth ($6.5 million) come off the books following this season. That’s $13.8 million right there.

Now, the rest of the news:

Derek Lowe, the team’s highest paid player at $15 million per season. will be entering the final year of his contract in 2012. Conceivably, the team could suck it up for a year and blow the budget out. But that’s not likely to happen. Lowe would be more trade-able in the final year of his contract but finding a team to take on a $15 million player, even a solid starting pitcher, still isn’t easy.

Chipper Jones could be done this year. Or he may not be going anywhere. His contract calls for $13 million this season, $13 million in 2012 and a club option at probably $7 million to $10 million in 2013.

– The Braves already have made a long-term commitment to Uggla ($62 million for five years) are paying Tim Hudson ($9 million) and Brian McCann ($8.667 million) through 2012. On top of that, they have to prepare for the future major paydays of Heyward and Tommy Hanson. (We’ll leave Jair Jurrjens out of this discussion for now.)

Here’s the unfortunate truth: The Braves stick to a budget (even if we never really know what that budget is). They will commit major dollars to a limited number of players. To go after a guy like Pujols — who already has rejected an eight-year contract at $25 million per season and may be seeking $30 million annually — would necessitate blowing up the rest of the roster.

Do I think the Braves would do that? No. Do I think Liberty Media would suddenly take the clamps off the budget? No. But feel free to dream.

Thoughts? Should the Braves go after Pujols at all costs?

By Jeff Schultz

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC; friend me at Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

167 comments Add your comment

Lowcountry Bulldawg

February 16th, 2011
9:27 am

Hankie Aron

February 16th, 2011
9:27 am

Hankie Aron

February 16th, 2011
9:28 am

oh well congrat and kudies from Mark Bradley to you Lowcountry

Athens Mike

February 16th, 2011
9:30 am

Hankie Aron

February 16th, 2011
9:31 am

As much as it would be dreamy, no

Athens Mike

February 16th, 2011
9:31 am

Fourth. Dang. Pujols is great, but I say give Freeman a try, if he doesn’t work out, you could find a good first baseman at a cheaper cost. Too much money is needed for Pujols.

Hankie Aron

February 16th, 2011
9:33 am

JS Question- Is a mega contract more about paying the player for his future based on his past, or paying a player for his past and hoping for the same future?

VA DAWG

February 16th, 2011
9:33 am

Pujols will be a CUB when its all said and done. So desperate to win, they will likely give him the 10 year contact he wants. Knowing their luck he’ll get hurt in his first or second year (a la D. Lee) and never be the same player again.

Hankie Aron

February 16th, 2011
9:34 am

If that even makes sense

Lowcountry Bulldawg

February 16th, 2011
9:35 am

Thank you, thank you! Third time ever I believe, but back to the topic at hand…

Pujols as a Brave? Dreaming yes, reality no. Hard to imagine St. Louis allowing him to walk. One obvious choice would by the Yankees, but with a infield of Tex and A-Roid they could not afford Pujols. How would they handle the 1B,3B,DH spots for players well into there late 30’s?

The Braves would become much more marketable if they did go after Pujols and a lineup of Heyward,Pujols,Uggla,McCann would be very formitable. The Ted would sell out every night, thus allowing them to recoup some of the money back, merchandising which I believe is shared revenue would bump some also. The Braves would have to have the “want to” to make it happen and in this day and age I beleive that is what would be lacking.

Hankie Aron

February 16th, 2011
9:37 am

I think he stays a Cardinal in the end. something along the lines of 28 million per for 8 years

lanier

February 16th, 2011
9:37 am

he would be injured by May

Diehard Braves fan

February 16th, 2011
9:37 am

He prolly end up in a NY Yankees’ uniforum when all is said and done.

Hankie Aron

February 16th, 2011
9:39 am

The Braves are little pawns to the Liberty Media money machine. They would NEVER go all out for any player

Lowcountry Bulldawg

February 16th, 2011
9:39 am

Pujols will not be a Cub. First St. Louis could not possibly allow that to unfold due to the natural rivalry. Secondly the Cubs are on the hook for 18mil annually to Soriano through ‘14. The Cubs would not risk that again.

Hankie Aron

February 16th, 2011
9:41 am

As great a player as the Poo Poo platter is, the 250 mil that Pujols wants is just too much for this economy. Arod wouldn’t get that money if in the same position

Tech Stinger

February 16th, 2011
9:44 am

Jeff

The Braves can offer Albert a 10 year 10 million dollar deal right? Or are the braves that cheap?

Paul H

February 16th, 2011
9:49 am

Like winning the lottery. Fun to dream about, not gonna happen.

FalconDawg

February 16th, 2011
9:50 am

Screw it go for it! When is the last time Atlanta sports has made claim to have the best player in any sport? Somehow we have always got by with having the majority of cheap players anyway. We just wouldn’t be able to over spend on old washed up names. Also, there is no doubt with him we would be the defending world champs. Is that not ultimate goal? Or should just continuously year after year trying to piece together some lucky formula that has only happened once in Atlanta sports history.

Jeff Schultz

February 16th, 2011
9:51 am

Hankie Aron — It’s all of the above. Sometimes you pay the player more than what he’s probably worth in years four and five of the deal, based on what he’s giving you in years one, two and three. You also need to factor in tickets sales, concessions, jersey sales, branding. There’s a lot that goes into it, other than, “But he might be hitting .240 in six years.”

Jeff Schultz

February 16th, 2011
9:51 am

Va Dawg — From Cardinals to Cubs? That would be a stunner.

Dr. Phil

February 16th, 2011
9:52 am

Fred McGriff was a decent first baseman and so was El Gatto Grande. The Cards will come up with the money for Pujols.

Jeff Schultz

February 16th, 2011
9:53 am

Tech Stinger — They probably won’t offer any contract because they know their offer will be blown away by other teams. But I could see Frank Wren making a quiet inquiry into how high the bidding will go.

Whiskey Clear

February 16th, 2011
9:55 am

No, they don’t need to, nor will they. Now if we were talking about a CF (Josh Hamilton), that would be a different story.

oh lord

February 16th, 2011
9:57 am

j hey batting third in front of Pujols? lord have mercy, he’d bat .375 with 100 doubles and 160 runs scored! he’d get fastball after fastball… man that’s delicious to consider

FalconDawg

February 16th, 2011
9:59 am

Not to mention you may have the future Hr record holder and have the record broke on your field. Imagine the ticket sales then.

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ga gator

February 16th, 2011
10:11 am

NO! Pujols has not produced in the playoffs and paying that kind of money for a player that age is stupid and only something the Yankees would do.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by SilentButSmart, Jim Carmichael and Leo Mc., Jeff Schultz. Jeff Schultz said: Dreaming of Albert Pujols as a Brave (but it’s a budget killer) http://bit.ly/eU1ApI [...]

always high

February 16th, 2011
10:14 am

Wait a minute Schultz, you left out Rico Brogna and Robert Fick.

PMC

February 16th, 2011
10:16 am

It’s fun to dream about isn it?

That said, it’s pretty much ridiculous to pay him 30 million over 10 years when he’s 31. 30 million for that one player is way to much for most baseball budgets and it simply doesn’t bear out. The guy may well be the best player in baseball…. he’s certainly better than AROD….I’ve never understood why that guy gets paid like he does.

It’s just too much to invest in one player… the guy is a bad knee or shoulder from having 30 Million dollars on the bench.

We were crying about not having Chipper because of his 13M last year.

On one hand, I want Pujols to be paid like he is the best player in the game… but pitching and speed may be worth more as far as winning a championship and how good is Albert in the postseason?

He would make a huge difference on this team no doubt…but 300 million dollars worth? Doubtful.

Ted Striker

February 16th, 2011
10:19 am

Google Joe Adcock?

C’mon, now. Is that really what you think I use Google for?

Gimme the name of some up and coming “prospects” from Prague or Bucharest or Rio or Venice or Bogota and you’re in the Striker friend club.

K.C. Frenchy

February 16th, 2011
10:21 am

NOT a possibility, a waste of time to consider, just like always only a few teams can afford it if theyre dumb enough to overpay, why pay for what hes already done in St. Louis??? But we could use a couple of outfielders!!! FW is just a window shopper tho cause youre not getting a stud for 3 mill per year, 2 years from now when all the contracts are up & hopefully a new owner is in place its time to go shopping!!!

rm

February 16th, 2011
10:25 am

Noboby, I mean NOBODY is worth $30 million per year. Especially in this economy! But we all know the Yankees will give it to him.

Walker, Texas Ranger

February 16th, 2011
10:29 am

I think it may be a waste of time but Albert would fill seats. What is the possibility of getting him this year? You could trade Freeman and a top pitching prospect for the one year St Louis would have remaining and pay him 30 mil. You could also try to unload Lowe to the Yankees (minus Pettit) and pickup part of his salary still owed. Chipper will be done and the only big contract free agent in the future is McCann. Albert will draw an additional 5000 per game. That would bring in about 6 mil on his own.

cattle dawg

February 16th, 2011
10:30 am

How bout we see what Freeman can do this year and try an get Prince fielder next year? Hes alot cheaper and younger.

Ted Striker

February 16th, 2011
10:30 am

Google Joe Adcock?

C’mon, now. Is that how you think I use Google?

Gimme the name of some up and coming “prospects” from Prague or Bucharest or Rio or Venice or Bogota and you’re a real pal.

Walker, Texas Ranger

February 16th, 2011
10:31 am

What did the RF from Philly get from the Nationals, I think Albert is worth (no pun intended) double his salary.

Larry

February 16th, 2011
10:31 am

No. Use that 30 million on two #1 pitchers!

SOUTH GA DAWG FAN

February 16th, 2011
10:32 am

what about sid bream ?

matt

February 16th, 2011
10:33 am

If they would dump Chipper, KK, McOut and Lowe they could afford him. Sinec they won’t keep dreaming.

mbatl08

February 16th, 2011
10:38 am

I wish Pujols could become a Brave, but it will never happen. Unless the fools at Liberty Media realize how much money Pujols would make for them by drawing more fans to Turner Field and maybe helping the Braves win a World Series or two. Then maybe they’d give the Braves the cash to go after him, but like I said, they are fools. It’ll never happen.

GPB

February 16th, 2011
10:40 am

No one is worth $30m. Especially over 8 years. I’d have preferred we told Chipper to take a hike and used that money to go after Crawford.

Bud

February 16th, 2011
10:44 am

Biggest Question? Is he 31 yrs old like he says? Remember Andruw Jones?

jfreak13713

February 16th, 2011
10:44 am

The problem with mid or low market teams is that if they do go after a guy like Pujols and pay the money they have little left to pay anyone else making their team really worse off than before they got the big time player. The Rangers and A-Rod come to mind or maybe the Twins with Mauer who will never hit more that 20 home runs again! I’d love to have Pujols but the Braves organization is not built to spend that kind of money on one player. I say we just keep things the way they are and build from within.

Freeman looks like a solid bat and a good glove and I’ll take that over what we’ve had recently at 1st base. I actually like having a team that has a chance to win but is not a complete playoff write-in! It makes every game more interesting to me! They ALL count!

David Granger

February 16th, 2011
10:47 am

It would sure be nice…however:
1. We don’t have Ted Turner in charge of the team anymore, and it would NOT be a justifiable “business expense,” and
2. Turner Field is NOT a good hitting park, so Pujols would probably not want to come here in the first place.

buckheaddawg

February 16th, 2011
10:48 am

everyone go buy some liberty stock

formidable braves 1B’men:

McGriff, Galaragga, A LaRoache, Ryan Klesko, and Honorable Mention goes to Sid Bream

bravo bravos

February 16th, 2011
10:49 am

No! Like rm says, nobody is worth that. It’s time owners begin realistic contracts that guarantee a certain amount and number of years, i.e. what the likely realistic production and longevity of the player is worth to the team measured against the risk of decline with the player’s health and production in the future. Beyond that add incentives based on productivity. This would address the player’s need for security while not hamstringing the team financially. Imagine Albert with likely similar production for the next 4-5 years then diminishing results the next 4-5 signed to a guaranteed base of say $15 mil for the next 5 years and $10 mil for the 5 after that with incentives for 30+ HR (add clauses for 40+ and 50+), .300 + BA, 100+ RBI, 500+ AB, MVP awards, HR titles, RBI titles, BA titles, Triple Crowns, team pennants, NLCS championship, World Series championship, and to top it off All Time HR king. Even throw in a clause that pays him based on his jersey sales. So he could still earn upwards of $30 mil per year but he has to produce. Security for the team is they have him long term. Security for him is he has more than enough money guaranteed to live more comfortably for the remainder of his life than 99+ % of Americans. And the wonder of it is that a baseball player is paid at least in part on what he produces during the season and not on hoped for results based on previous results.

meh

February 16th, 2011
10:51 am

we had some good first basemen in the 90s. Sid Bream aka “the best dude ever”, Fred McGriff, and Andres Gallaragha. Granted, none of them were around for a lot of years but if you put the tenures together that’s a good run of good first basemen.

NCBravesFan

February 16th, 2011
10:53 am

I live about 100 miles from Atlanta and have been an avid Braves fan for years and years (never mind how many). I enjoy attending a game in Atlanta two or three times a season and am otherwise ALWAYS in front of my nice HD TV when a Braves game is broadcast. The idea of Pujols as a Brave does not (and would not) make me a bigger fan of the Braves (not taking anything away from Pujols). The Braves are a TEAM of several star players. They all work together. I would hate to see one BIG star surrounded by smaller stars. And to think of who and what we would have to give up to get him. Oh, my!