Suppose the Cardinals had to face up to the unthinkable -- that there was no way for the club to re-sign baseball's best player...
Could the recent wheelings and dealings of the Angels create a Plan B of sorts for the Redbirds?
What if the Cardinals traded Pujols to Anaheim? Yeah, he has the right to veto a trade. But if he knew there was no way to remain in St. Louis -- especially if they worked out some sort of sign and trade deal with the halos -- wouldn't he be likely to accept the opportunity?
The Cardinals could ask for Vernon Wells and Dan Haren for Pujols... But if the Angels want Albert on their infield, they have to take Kyle Lohse, too.
The Redbirds would add about $6 million in payroll in 2011 but they would save a ton of money in 2012 because they wouldn't have to pay Pujols what they expected. Meanwhile, they'd still have a pretty respectable offense, the outfield defense would be tremendously improved and the pitching staff would rival the Phillies as the best in the National League.
Wells makes $23 million this season on a contract that was ridiculous when it was signed four years ago. But it ratchets down to $21 million for the three years after that. So he's a relative bargain compared to what a free agent would cost because anyone who has a chance of making the All-Star Game these days wants a seven-year contract. It's also nice that Wells is only signed through age 35.
RF Wells (.273 with 31 homers and 88 RBIs with Toronto in 2010.)
I'm not endorsing this move. I still think the best thing for both sides would be for the Cardinals to re-sign Pujols. But if it can't happen, the Cardinals are going to have to do SOMETHING to mitigage the damage.