Ten years ago, the Cardinals had just won the World Series. Their 32-year-old franchise player was in the final year of his contract. And they were in the position of making an offer to keep him.
St Louis offered Albert Pujols a ten-year deal at $210 million. Instead, he signed with the Angels for ten years at $240 million.
Just a lousy three million dollars a year was the difference. To most people, that is a huge sum of money. But to someone who just signed a deal for over $200 million, it’s really not. Not for the player. Not for the team.
Pujols’s career in Anaheim never materialized. In eleven seasons in St Louis, the nine-time All-Star nine times won the MVP three times and finished in the top-ten in MVP voting eight times. That means, every single season as a Cardinal was an MVP-caliber season for Albert Pujols.
By contrast, in his ten years in Anaheim, he made one All-Star game and never had a top-ten MVP season. His OPS+ in St Louis was 170. In Anaheim it was 108. He was superhuman as a Cardinal. Super average as an Angel. You’d have to wonder if he could do it again, would he trade in the money for the success and comfort level he had in St Louis? Was a little bit of money that important?
Now, ten years later, Freddie Freeman is in the exact same position. The face of his franchise, a perennial All-Star, MVP, future Hall of Fame first baseman, 32, his team just won a World Series. And he is a free agent.
The Braves have been unable to sign Freeman. Now, he is looking at the possibility of hitting the free agent market.
Selfishly, for the Rangers’ sake, I hope that happens. If there is one player this team desperately needs over the next ten years, it’s Freddie Freeman. He has everything the Rangers don’t have. Namely, talent. And a winning pedigree. Imagine Michael Young and Adrian Beltre rolled into one.
The trouble is, if Freeman does hit the open market, Texas will have to get in line to sign him. The only way a premium free agent comes to the Rangers at this point in their franchise is with this team having to way over paying them, blow away all other deals, make them an offer they can’t refuse.
I hope Atlanta and Freeman are able to work out a deal, though. I hope Freeman looks at Pujols’s career trajectory when he left St Louis and wonders if that could happen to him as well. Is it worth it for a few million more a year?
I hope for the sake of the game he stays. Freddie Freeman is a Brave. He belongs in Atlanta. Albert Pujols was a Cardinal. He belonged in St Louis. There has to be more than a few measly million dollars.
I want nothing more than Freddie Freeman to be a Ranger. But for Freddie, I want him remain a Brave.