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Will Pujols be a lifetime Cardinal?

There's an interesting story on si.com about Albert Pujols and what it will take to keep him in a Cardinals uniform for the rest of the career.

 

For a guy who isn't worried about the money, Pujols is said to want a 10-year, $250 million contract, a price no midsized market has never been able to afford. Is there a way the Cardinals can afford to keep a $25 million a year player or a team with a $100 million a year budget?

 

That's a less daunting question than this one: Is there a way the Cardinals can afford not to sign him?

 

Despite all the great stars the Redbirds have had through the years, Pujols is the only player who can legitimately be mentioned in the same breath as all-time Cardinals icon Albert Pujols. The Cardinals superstar puts thousands of people in the seats per game and makes the team marketable even when it slashes payroll and is considered by most to be a third place quality club.

How many tickets would the Cardinals be unable to sell if Pujols packed his bags and moved on? 

 

"If there's a way to keep Albert a lifetime Cardinal, that makes a lot of sense for everyone," GM John Mozeliak told SI.com. "He's very much an iconic player there, and if he wants to stay, we're going to try to find a way to make that happen."

According to SI's Jon Heyman: 

There have been no serious talks to date, possibly indicating neither side senses it'll be easy to find common ground, at least not now. Pujols, still only 28, would hope to increase his pay by at least 50 percent from his current annual salary of $16 million, and while it's hard to say he shouldn't get what's due him as one of the two best players in the majors, that's a steep price for a team outside New York, Boston or Los Angeles. DeWitt said to pay any player that sort of money a team would need to have a stash of young (read as: inexpensive) productive players.

And there's the rub: The Cardinals say the only way they can afford to keep Pujols is if they surround him with a bunch of cheap kids. And Pujols said that he only wants to stay with the Cardinals if they put a competitive product on the field every year...

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