Albert Pujols never chose St. Louis; in 1999, he was selected by them and told he could not negotiate with any other MLB franchise. In 2002, after having one of the great rookie seasons of all time and nearly winning the league MVP, the Cardinals paid him $600,000. (That same offseason, first baseman Jason Giambi signed a contract for about $17 million a year.) In 2003, after Pujols finished second in the MVP balloting the previous year, the Cardinals paid Pujols $900,000. (Vladimir Guerrero signed a deal that offseason paying him $14 million per season over five years.)
I do not recall hearing the word "loyalty" during those offseasons. I do not recall the public outcry to pay Pujols what he was worth. I do not recall burned Cardinals jerseys and message board threats against the front office and even more shameful language all because a team was taking advantage of the rules to generate a profit. The fact is, no one cared that Albert Pujols was one of the most underpaid men in America in those years, generating tens of millions of dollars in surplus value for an organization that just a few years prior had claimed the rights to his work product for a pittance in a process created solely for the purpose of doing just that.
And the fans cheered.