There's no denying it. Considering how much many of his peers are being paid, the first 10 years of Albert Pujols' career were probably worth $300 million. For the decade, he hit .331 with 408 home runs and 1900 hits. The fewest games he played in any of those seasons was 143. He never failed to bat .300 or hit 30 home runs.
The question, however, isn't what Pujols has been worth, but what he's worth going forward. If The Machine can keep up that pace until he's in his late 30s or even early 40s, there'd be no disputing what he'd be — priceless, given that he would statistically be the greatest player of all-time, by miles. His consistency thus far bodes well as far as that is concerned, but still, a realist would say that even The Machine will decline at some point.
But can the Cardinals afford to be realists? Letting Pujols walk would be a blow to the fan base in St. Louis that the franchise could perhaps never live down. And what if their bitter rivals, the Cubs, are the team that is willing to give Pujols a "Godfather offer?" The Cardinals, of course, also sit in an odd place in terms of baseball identity. They are among the league's most significant teams, and act like a big market club despite playing in a small one. If they were to let Pujols walk, the notion that they aren't just another small market team may be shattered.
The Cardinals simply may have to pay Pujols his ransom, whether or not it is a rational decision. If they don't, there surely will be another team irrational enough to do so. If your team did it, could you possibly fault them? Even if Pujols declined precipitously with age? The answer is probably no, which is why $300 million — outlandish as it sounds — is a legitimate possibility.
Is Pujols worth $300 million? Leave your thoughts below.