A variety of reports from FOXSports.com indicated that the Miami Marlins offered the St. Louis slugger a 10-year contract worth more than $200 million. By all accounts, The Machine is inching closer and closer to The Decision.
But is Pujols the best long-term option on the market? I don't think so. The rights to that title should go to Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder, who finished third in the National League MVP voting.
This isn't being a prisoner of the moment. This is strictly looking at the most important number in these negotiations –– 27. At 27 years of age, Fielder is four years younger than Pujols and can cling onto a few more years in his prime.
"He's one of those special guys who comes around once in a while, once in a lifetime," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "He should've played the game in the 1950s and '60s and '70s, when guys played every day, they played as hard as they possibly could every single day.
"They cared about winning, they cared about their teammates. Prince is all those things. He's one of those special guys."
Now, Pujols is certainly one of the most decorated players in this era. He has won two World Series titles. He is a nine-time All-Star. He has hit .328 for his career and has belted 445 homers and 1,329 RBIs over his 11 years in St. Louis.
Even Sveum acknowledged his greatness. The former Brewers hitting coach had a front-row seat during his tenure in the NL Central.
"I had to witness over the last six years what he could do," Sveum said. "It's pretty impressive. He's definitely the best hitter in baseball right now. What he did in the playoffs and all that stuff speaks for itself.”
Despite those accolades –– accolades that will land Pujols in the Hall of Fame –– his best days are behind him. After crossing the 30-year-old threshold, durability becomes a legitimate factor.
Not just yet for Fielder. Over the past three years, he has mashed 116 homers with 331 RBIs and has shown no sign of slowing down. If anything, since becoming a vegetarian, the first baseman has emerged into a bonafide monster.
Historically, Pujols has the edge in numbers. But as general manager –– who is planning for roughly the next 10 years –– it's easier to envision Fielder maintaining a productive pace for the duration of the contract.
Keep in mind that he could transition into a full-time designated hitter in the American League, which decreases his chances of suffering an injury. By those standards, the Prince is a better long-term investment than the The Machine.
"He's an impact player who impacts the whole team," said Sveum.
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