The latest rumblings of the Marlins' chase for free agent first baseman Albert Pujols is that the Fish offered a ten-year deal to the first baseman (H/T MLB Daily Dish). This is significant because it trumps the nine-year offer previously provided by the St. Louis Cardinals before the season began. The Cardinals' stance had previously been not to budge on their previous contract offer because of the likely lack of suitors for Pujols's services; there were simply too few teams with the resources available to pull off a signing of that nature. However, the Marlins' most recent run has perhaps changed that situation.
As odd as it may be for me to admit, the Marlins may be serious candidates for Pujols's services. At his age, it does not appear as if he will receive the sort of deal that Alex Rodriguez got, but the ten-year offer at least matches the number of years Rodriguez received when he signed his mammoth ten-year, $250 million deal with the Texas Rangers. Because of the length, the Marlins have the ability to decrease the average annual value (AAV) of the contract thanks to Pujols's aging. In this sense, the Marlins are sacrificing future seasons for a current advantage in a way that the New York Yankees did not when they re-signed Rodriguez in 2009 following his opt-out.Ultimately, I still do not believe the Marlins will be able to make this signing. What they have most certainly successfully accomplished was to get the Cardinals into more serious negotiations with Pujols, forcing them approach a deal similar to the one he wanted prior to the beginning of the offseason. Pujols's situation is unique; he is still likely the best player in baseball, but he is coming off his worst season of his career and is looking for an enormously lengthy contract that is still fitting of a "best player in baseball" moniker. In that sense, it is hard to come up with an honest comparable situation, so both the Marlins and Cardinals are dealing with uncharted waters.
The Cardinals will most certainly have to counter back at this point. As mentioned, their reluctance to budge from their initial offer will not stand after this latest proposal by the Fish. The Marlins are serious about this run, and the Cardinals would be wise to counter. I think they will, and ultimately they will be the ones who land Pujols. But if there was a time to feel confident about the Marlins' chances, it would be now.
If the Marlins happen to land Pujols, the team apparently will trade Gaby Sanchez. The Chicago Cubs may have interest according to Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune. This would be a good thing for the Marlins, but it would force Logan Morrison permanently into left field, although this may be a small price to pay to have Albert Pujols raking for the next four or five years.
As always, stay tuned to Fish Stripes for the latest information.