Pujols will be 31 years old on Opening Day 2011, the last year of his current 7-year, $100m contract. One would figure his next contract (if he agrees to a market-appropriate deal) would fall in the 6-year, $120-150m range.
Admittedly, a deal is not likely, but what would it take for each of these teams to make a move and would it be worth it?
Angels (15-1 odds of a deal happening)
Possible offer for Pujols: Kendry Morales, Mike Trout, and Jordan Walden
The Angels have the makings of an extremely solid rotation with Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, and Ervin Santana. Pujols would stabilize a lineup that has lacked any pop since Mark Teixeira left town two years ago. Arte Moreno has not been bashful when trying, mostly unsuccessfully, to throw money at premium talent (see Teixeira and CC Sabathia). The Angels would be World Series contenders.
From the Cardinals perspective, Morales - assuming he can fully recover from a freak injury - would replace a portion of Pujols' production for a fraction of the price; however, the real key to the deal would be Trout, a player many consider to be the top prospect in the minors. St Louis would be looking at a Holliday-Colby Rasmus-Trout outfield for the next five years. Throw in Morales and Yadier Molina plus David Freese, a player I am higher on than most but who is also coming off injury, at the hot corner and the lineup would be impressive. Dealing Pujols would also allow them to sign another free agent bat.
Walden could take over the closing duties in St. Louis from Ryan Franklin.
The Cards also have the luxury of sending Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter to the hill two out of every five days. Mix in Jaime Garcia and at least one Dave Duncan-rejuvenated arm, and this would be more of a reloading process than a rebuilding one.
Verdict: The Halos have the players and the cash to make it happen; however, they would be mortgaging the future. For a team craving power, I think it's a worthwhile gamble.
Possible offer for Pujols: Matt Kemp, James Loney, Dee Gordon, and Chris Withrow
The Dodgers have grown frustrated with Kemp despite the fact he displays five tools with relative ease. Upgrading the offense by coupling Pujols with emerging star Andre Ethier would be a welcome site for the team's pitching staff, but it's doubtful that the two of them alone could carry the offense. More moves would be necessary, but acquiring the game's best hitter would be a great start.
St. Louis would have to seriously consider any deal that included Kemp, a player under team control for another two years. He would slot nicely into the 3-hole of the lineup as the everyday right fielder. Loney, known more for his defensive prowess and contact skills, would be a huge downgrade from AP5. Brendan Ryan has been a defensive stud, but his offense leaves plenty to be desired. Gordon could eventually overtake Ryan or simply slide over to play second base.
Withrow struggled this season in AA but has an electric arm.
Verdict: The Dodgers have the players but too much uncertainty with ownership to be taking this type of risk.
Possible offer for Pujols: Mike Stanton, Logan Morrison, and Matt Dominguez
On talent alone, the Fish could likely offer the best deal, but they have never shown a willingness to break the bank or to deal prospects in exchange for proven commodities. They dealt Miguel Cabrera - arguably the best player in franchise history - at the age of 24 before he could sign a megadeal.
For fun, though, let's play along. If this trade came to fruition, we would be looking at a lineup containing Hanley Ramirez and Pujols. As a Mets fan, I am petrified. As a baseball fan, I am ecstatic. A deal like this would make a lot of people forget what kind of swindlers run this organization (and may send Jeff Passan's blood pressure through the roof).
The Cardinals would slot Morrison at first and Stanton in right on Opening Day. Dominguez has upside as well, but this would be a monumental gamble on their part.
Verdict: They have the players but not the cash / willingness to spend it so let's not get too excited.
Possible offer for Pujols: The entire minor league system
Verdict: Houston has the cash but not the players. I cannot envision a scenario in which the Cardinals would send a division rival the best player in the game. The Astros minor league cupboard is as barren as any in baseball. Plus, Brett Wallace - their top prospect - was traded away by the Cardinals to acquire Matt Holliday last year. Simply put, it's not happening.