The idea of offering Ryan Howard to the Cardinals for Albert Pujols has been discussed within the Phillies organization, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reports.
Phillies GM Ruben Amaro denied that such talks have occurred, and it is unclear whether the team has spoken to anyone with the Cardinals, according to the report, which cites anonymous sources.
"Lies," Amaro told Olney in response to the rumor. "That’s a lie. I don’t know who you’re talking to, but that’s a lie."
That said, there would be logic behind the trade proposal.
Widely considered the best player in baseball, Pujols is set to become a free agent after the 2011 season, and he is expected to ask for a contract that approaches Alex Rodriguez’s record-setting 10-year, $275 million deal with the Yankees, according to the report.
Early extension talks between the Cardinals and Pujols have not led to a deal, ESPN.com reports. If the team decided it could not afford the slugger, then it might seek to unload Pujols through a blockbuster trade.
Acquiring Howard might soften the PR hit sure to come if the Cardinals traded their superstar, not only because of Howard’s talents, but also because he grew up in the St. Louis area.
While not at Pujols’ level offensively or in the field, Howard would not be a bad replacement. The 30-year-old lefty is only a couple of months older than Pujols, and in the last four seasons, Howard has hit 198 homers, driven in 572 runs and finished in the top five of the NL MVP race every year. He also becomes a free agent after the 2011 season but could probably be signed for significantly less than Pujols.