The Cardinals realize how important it is to the franchise to keep Albert Pujols, according to a story by Jon Heyman, and Chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. is determined to find a way to keep him in a St. Louis uniform for life.
According to Heyman's story, the Cardinals plan to get creative with the contract structure. But any way they slice it, it's probably going to cost the team an average of $30 million a year to keep baseball's greatest player in red.
While the Redbirds have made a lot of noise about keeping their payroll in the $100 million range, increasing Pujols' paycheck really doesn't seem to be all that impossible to swallow. The Phillies are believed to have about the same revenue stream as the Cardinals and they may top the $140 million mark this year if a some of the incentive clauses in their players' contracts are reached.
I don't see the Cardinals going up that high. But, with a payroll of $95 million now, the team could conceivably increase Pujols' paycheck from $16 million a year to $30 million a year while keeping the same quality of supporting cast around him as he has now -- by increasing the budget to an extremely reasonable $110 million.
It doesn't seem that either side is too urgent to get a deal done. But I still wish they would while everyone is on the same page.