"As great a player as Ryan Howard is, Albert is the greatest player in the game,''
Borris won't discuss dollars, but it's pretty plain to all at this point that Pujols will be seeking to match or top
"Pujols should get everything," one other agent said. "He gets it all."
One management person from a competing team pegs the winning number at exactly $30 million. "I think he'll get 30 [million], not more. That's a nice benchmark."
"He's the best player in the game. His numbers are better than A-Rod's," said yet another agent, who believes Pujols is worth $35-$40 million.
Ultimately, folks around the game conclude that the Cardinals have no choice but to pony up the $30 million for Pujols.
Whatever the final number winds up being, one thing is for sure: the Howard deal has made Pujols' value clearer than ever. Pujols is better defensively than the improving Howard, strikes out far less frequently and hits for a significantly higher average. But those factors might not be as important as this one: "Pujols means more to the Cardinals than Howard does to the Phillies," said the management person. "Howard has a better supporting cast. What [Howard has] done is lock in the Cardinals. I don't see how [Pujols] isn't getting 30 [million]."
Pujols will have to confront the fact that first basemen have already been a priority for large-market teams. The Yankees are set at first base with
Here are updates on each of the other star first basemen:
Boggs said he can't be sure whether there's any hope for a big deal to keep his client with the Padres because there hasn't been any discussion between the two sides since Boggs' initial meeting months ago with new Padres GM
At this point, the signs aren't great for an extension. Padres people have said they don't want to use 30-40 percent of their limited payroll on one player, even a great one. Boggs has read those remarks. "Unfortunately, most of the quotes I've seen suggest they might not be able to digest a salary that [a big star] is worthy of,'' Boggs said.
Meanwhile, Boggs and Gonzalez will continue to monitor the market.
"We are taking notes,'' Boggs said.
Yes, there have been conversations between Milwaukee and its Prince. But as was reported in this space a couple weeks ago, Fielder will be looking for about $200 million or more over eight years. That may sound high, but it would come out to at least the same $25 million per year that Howard just signed for. Additionally, Fielder is five years younger than Howard, so more years are apparently expected.
The Brewers are serious about trying to keep their All-Star first baseman, but there is no evidence they are interested in meeting that lofty price. Milwaukee is generally more likely to contend than San Diego, so trading Fielder is seen as a long shot. But if the Brewers fall out of the race, it can't be ruled out.
Howard's contributions can be overlooked at times because of the overwhelming presence of Pujols, who's clearly the best player in the National League, and also because Howard is only part of a fabulous nucleus in Philly that includes
Howard does have a few negatives, such as his high strikeout totals (an average of 189 the past four seasons), his weakness against left-handed pitchers (last year his OPS was 1.088 vs. right-handers vs .653 vs. lefties), his age (30) and the possibility he'll decline during the contract as he gets older.
But the belief among skeptics of the deal that this was an obvious overpay isn't reflected one bit among baseball people. In fact, a few inside the game remarked that the package was strong though not unreasonably so and one actually opined that it was light. I agree with the prominent competing agent who said, "The $25 million AAV (average annual value) reflects fair market value.''
As boring as it sounds, it was a good deal for both sides.
There are those suggesting Howard won't be the player at the end of the deal, when he'll be 36, that he is now, and that isn't an unreasonable prediction. But A-Rod, for example, will be 42 when his contract will be up, and besides, that guess can be made about many long-term deals. One GM said five years isn't outrageous at all and actually praised Howard for not being greedy and insisting on seven or eight.
That Howard received $2 million more than Teixeira also seems about right under the circumstances. Teixeira has a more diverse set of skills, is slightly younger and signed in New York as a free agent, but he couldn't make a case that he has the same offensive impact as Howard, a classic slugger. With the $39 million Howard is making this year and next on his current deal, that means he'll get $164 million though 2016, or just $16 million less than the eight-year contract Teixeira signed with the Yankees. Teixeira's defense is superior, but considering all the variables, $164 million isn't unreasonably high for Howard.
But here are a few more reasons Howard is worth this investment:
• There doesn't seem to be a lot of optimism for Philadelphia to keep Werth after the Howard deal was done. "If an extension isn't done between now and when Jayson becomes a free agent, he'll be the premier free agent outfielder this upcoming offseason,'' his agent, Borris, said. Though Borris wouldn't talk dollars in this case, either, the belief around baseball is that Werth will be seeking a deal for close to $100 million, considering
• There's more optimism the Phillies will keep Rollins beyond 2011, when his contract expires, though there's little evidence to date that anything serious has been done about it.
• The Red Sox might have to seriously consider catching alternatives. Speaking of
• The Brewers have demoted
• Meanwhile, the move of
• Before the Pirates snapped a 22-game losing streak in Milwaukee with a 7-3 win on Tuesday night,
• Texas made a move to help its offense by promoting catcher
• A clause in phenom
• As one baseball person pointed out, it doesn't make sense for
• Best wishes to