No doubt, many many words have been written about Albert Pujols, and many metaphorical inkwells have been spilt over the issue (In fact, robot tweeter azruavatar even went as far to say, “Somewhere amidst all us monkeys typing words about Albert Pujols, you can probably find a work of Shakespeare”). In some cases, Pujols has been cast as Iago; in others, Bill DeWitt and John Mozaliak are the villain. In any case, I hope that nobody minds if I add a few more.
Pujols’ self-imposed deadline has come and passed with no update, ostensibly to join the free agent market in October. This, I argue, is the most rational point of view from both sides of the negotiation.
From Pujols’ point of view, the benefits of joining free agency are obvious. Right now, Albert and Lozano value themselves higher than the Cardinals do; they feel that if they get to the open market, they will receive more money than the Cardinals are offering right now. With more bidders, comes a higher demand for his services, which raises his asking price. He doesn’t stand to gain anything by signing a lower contract now, because if his market is lower than anticipated in October, then he just signs the same offer later with no real repercussions.
From the team’s point of view, however, they just want to sign Albert to a contract that does not hamper the Cardinals’ ability to stay competitive for the next 10 years. As of right now, they are competing against one price point and one price point only: the bad Alex Rodriguez contract. Should he hit free agency, they would add the free market as another comparison point. There are two outcomes in this scenario: the market is not as strong as Pujols believes and he signs with the Cardinals for less than he is asking now, or the market is just as strong as Pujols believes, and they either increase the value of their offer or he signs with another team. Their worst case scenario is the same as it currently stands, but their best case scenario could save them tens of millions of dollars.
Ultimately, both sides of the negotiation are acting precisely as they should be in the situation; neither of them stand to gain anything by compromising now, and both stand to gain quite a bit by seeing how the market values Albert Pujols. To me, there are no greedy parties; there are just two rational actors.