It’s a trade that is more likely to be considered in your fantasy baseball league or on your new version of MLB 2K10, but ESPN’s Buster Olney has reported that the Philadelphia Phillies have “internally discussed” a deal that would send Ryan Howard (and presumably multiple prospects) to the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for Albert Pujols.
Pujols, 30, is widely considered the best player in the game and possibly the greatest hitter of this generation. He is a free agent after the 2011 season, and there is concern that the Cardinals will not be able (or willing) to resign him, as he’ll likely command somewhere in the neighborhood of $30 million per year.
Howard, who is also 30, is due to make $19 million in 2010 and $20 million in 2011, and is also a free agent after the 2011 season. Although Howard will likely receive a very lucrative contract, he will be considerably cheaper than Pujols.
Howard, who won the 2006 National League MVP award, is from the St. Louis-area, and some have speculated that while trading Pujols would be an incredibly unpopular idea in St. Louis, the Cardinals could hope to minimize the damage by bringing in hometown-favorite Howard.
On the surface, this deal seems to almost make a tiny amount of sense, but once you look a little deeper, it’s incredibly absurd how little sense this makes.
The Cardinals signed outfielder Matt Holliday to a seven-year, $120 million deal this offseason, which appeared to be part of a plan to show Pujols that the Cardinals are dedicated to putting a winning team on the field. If St. Louis had any intention of trading Pujols, then overpaying for Holliday’s services this offseason made no sense. In addition to that, it’s generally a bad idea for a franchise to trade away one of the top three players in the world, who is under contract for two more years at a well below market value.
Although this deal may have some fans in Philadelphia salivating at the mere thought of Albert Pujols in the already potent Philly lineup, this deal also makes little sense when given general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. and his apparent philosophy that he’s not willing to mortgage the future of the franchise for short-term gains. If Amaro didn’t think that way, Philadelphia would have likely kept Cliff Lee in red pinstripes for the 2010 season along with newly acquired pitcher Roy Halladay, instead of trading him to Seattle in order to replenish the suddenly depleted farm system, in an effort to win their second World Series title in three years. For Philadelphia, in order to obtain Pujols through trade, they would likely have to include multiple prospects in the deal, and that would go against everything that Amaro has been working for.
An idea like this is fun to think about (if you’re a Phillies fan), but it appears that there is absolutely no validity in this rumor, which should make Cardinals fans breathe a sigh of relief.