Yesterday came and went without a contact extension between Albert Pujols and the St. Louis Cardinals, ending any discussions between the superstar free-agent-to-be and the only team fortunate enough to employ him during his 10-year career; Pujols set a firm deadline to end the talks so he could focus on the season. Now, with the possibility Pujols can leave following this season, some Cardinals fans are up in arms. Does today mark Armageddon for the Cardinals?
Not necessarily, writes SB Nation contributor Rob Neyer. “The Cardinals still have the best player in baseball for the whole season,” he says, “and maybe a winning season convinces them to up their offer, or Pujols to take a little less than he might get from a richer club.” Alternatively, perhaps “a losing season makes everyone’s decisions a bit easier.” There are more possibilities, of course, but those are the major ones.
To be clear, Neyer isn’t trying to put lipstick on a pig with his take, and he admits “this wasn’t a good day for the St. Louis Cardinals.” But Pujols hasn’t left just yet, nor does it appear he even has a foot out the proverbial door. The uncertainty about his future looms large over the franchise, sure, and may become a distraction for the club. But this much remains the same: the Cardinals have Pujols, and no other team in baseball does. That has to be worth quite a lot.