SEATTLE, WA - Albert Pujols #5 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim watches his two-run home run in the sixth inning against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Remember when Angels fans were hoping Brandon Wood would be the next Pujols? For a month, it actually happened! Just in a monkey-paw kind of way. Careful with those wishes, people. But from May 9 through Monday's game, Albert Pujols hit .299/.353/.558 with six homers, two doubles, and seven walks in 85 plate appearances.
You might consider it cherry-picking to start with May 9 because he was 2-for-5 that day, and it makes his numbers look shinier. But I wasn't trying to cherry-pick, and your suggestion offends me, w… Hey, is that a .gif of a dog trapped in a fortress of soda cans???
Huh. You're still here. I figured that would distract you and you'd wander off. So, yeah, I was cherry-picking those numbers. Just grabbing Pujols's May splits (.245/.289/.462) wouldn't paint a picture that was optimistic enough. Yes, his May has been an improvement over his April. Congratulations, Angels, on your $240 million Pedro Feliz. No, those numbers won't do at all.
But if you limit your search to the last three weeks, ah, now you're looking at the Pujols of old. Well, if not old, at least the one from last year. His BA/OBP/SLG last year: .299/.366/.541, which are almost identical to what he's done over the last three weeks. He's back! Kind of. If you ignore the unpleasantness from the first month. Still, his last three weeks have been encouraging. And I'm rooting for him to succeed -- I don't want to live in a world where the best hitters to ever live can turn into Manny Alexander without a slow decline or a succession of injuries.
As you can tell from the title of this piece, though, we're not here to assess which Pujols will show up for the rest of the season. We're here to pretend that a lawyer got a hold of the Pujols/Angels contract, and he or she found out that the contract was scrawled in crayon on the back of a Hardee's kids' menu. Dan Lozano drew a little helicopter in the upper-left corner. As such, Pujols's contract is voided, and he's a free agent again. He's on the open market right now.
What kind of contract would he get?
Let's start with the obvious.
Dan Lozano: Thanks for meeting us here, guys. I'm eager to get this started.
Blue Jays: First things first. You'll notice that I'm holding a rope. If I pull on this rope, a trap door opens up under your chair. I'm not going to say where you'll end up, just that you won't like it.
Blue Jays: I will pull the rope if I hear the words "10 years" come out of your mouth.
Lozano: Well, maybe I should just get up from the chair and negotiate from the doorway.
Blue Jays: …
Blue Jays: We didn't really think about that, but we'd feel a lot more comfortable if you'd just stay in your chair.
Ten years is out. Seemed crazy at the time. Seems unbelievable now. Nine years is probably out. Eight … yeah, probably out.
Is this overreacting to two months of a 12-year career? Not sure. But when the first deal was negotiated, all of the worst-case scenarios were hard to visualize. The downside wasn't as tangible. Pujols was always awesome. Always. Sure, there was a point some day when he'd slow down, but it seemed remote and unimportant, like knowing that the sun will run out of hydrogen in five billion years. His start to this season was different. That was the Ghost of Christmas Future rattling chains in teams' faces and blocking the elevator to their offices, threatening them with pepper spray if they made a false move. Those worst-case scenarios are easier to visualize now, for sure.
But while a decade-long contract is out, it's probably silly to think a team could get him for a one year, $6 million "show me" contract. There would be a mini-bidding war. Yes, even after the miserable start to the season, there would be more than one team willing to give Pujols a multi-year deal for substantial money.
My best guess: Five years, $120 million. Cut that sucker right in half. And you'd be scared as hell if your team was the one who handed it out, but you'd also be secretly excited. If Pujols is 75% of the hitter he was, the contract would still be a bargain.
I see that you're throwing up in the corner, thinking about your team being on the hook for $120 million for Albert Pujols. That's a funny way to show your secret excitement. Fine, maybe 5/$120M is overshooting it. But it makes for a good discussion starter.
What would Pujols sign for if he were a free agent today? Vote in the poll and make your case in the comments.
What would Pujols sign for if he were a free agent this very second?
Same. Ten years, $240 million. Also, I'm drunk. (25 votes)
Seven years or more, more than $120 million (163 votes)
Four to six years and over $100 million (178 votes)
Four to six years and under $100 million (61 votes)
Under four years (14 votes)
Two or three years, tops (11 votes)
One-year deal (9 votes)
461 total votes