Phillies rumors: Club once considered trading Albert Pujols for Ryan Howard
Will the Phillies make Albert Pujols an offer?
Once upon a time, the Philadelphia Phillies reportedly considered making a first-baseman swap with the St. Louis Cardinals.
According to ESPN’s Buster Olney back in March 2010, the Phillies had discussed sending Ryan Howard to St. Louis in exchange for Albert Pujols. Then-GM Ruben Amaro Jr. vehemently denied that such discussions ever took place, calling the report a “ridiculous” lie.
At Spring Training, Howard said he was unbothered by the rumors:
"“I’m not really focused on it. If that were the case — I don’t know if it is or not — it is what it is. You just keep going out there and doing your thing. If you get a call saying you’re trade, then you’re traded. Until that happens, I’m still a Phillie. I’m still here. Let’s ride it out.”"
Pujols gave a more impassioned refutation:
"“There’s people, stupid, that like to write something when it’s not the truth, and that’s all I have to say about that… I’ve been saying all along I want to be here, but whatever, it’s not up to me.”"
At the time, the Phillies were coming off a disappointing World Series loss to the New York Yankees (Joe Girardi’s team at the time, ironically), and heading into what would end up being their fourth consecutive division title season.
The Cardinals were a year away from winning the 2011 World Series, which they’d reach by beating the Phillies in the NLDS. Would it have turned out that way if this trade had come to be?
Fast-forward over a decade later, and the Phillies haven’t made the postseason since 2011, Howard is long-retired, Pujols is a free agent coming off his 21st season in the majors, and the National League has several brand-new Designated Hitter positions open.
Are the Phillies still interested?
They should be, but because they just signed Kyle Schwarber and are determined never to exceed the luxury tax (embarrassing), it’s almost entirely unlikely.
Overall, it’s hard to believe how little buzz there’s been about Pujols, especially now that the Universal DH is in place. He’s 42 years old, but he can still slug it out, as evidenced by his 17 home runs in 109 games last season. It’s surprising that the Cardinals don’t want to bring him home to round out his career, the way the Kansas City Royals just reunited with Zack Greinke.
But more than his offensive production is the immeasurable value Pujols would add to any clubhouse as a veteran leader with 21 years of big-league experience and more postseason experience than the entire Phillies roster put together.
When Pujols finally retires, he’ll be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. His Rookie of the Year, batting title, two Gold Gloves, three MVPs and three Major League Player of the Year awards, six Silver Sluggers, 10 All-Star seasons, NLCS MVP, and two World Series rings guarantee it.
Of course, it’s worth noting that much of that came before the Phillies reportedly talked about trading for him. But there’s still time to benefit from what Pujols has to offer.