Albert Pujols has finally decided where he is going to play next year after several teams were in on the sweepstakes for arguably the best player in baseball right now.
The Los Angeles Angels came out the winner, signing the three-time National League MVP to a 10-year, $250 million dollar deal. The Miami Marlins, the Chicago Cubs and Pujols's former team, the St. Louis Cardinals all offered deals that weren't satisfactory with the slugger and his agent, Dan Lozano.
The Marlins, who have revitalized themselves with a new stadium, logo, and manager, seemed like the frontrunner when talks began with potential suitors, going so far as to meet twice with Pujols and Lozano. Eventually, reports say the Fish offered Pujols the same amount of years and even $275 million. However, afterwards, talks eventually broke down and the Marlins ultimately pulled the offer from the table on Tuesday once they signed former Chicago White Sox pitcher Mark Buerhle to a four-year, $58 million deal, who, along with newly acquired former New York Mets shortstop Jose Reyes, already forced them to commit to $164 million.
The real deal-breaker for Pujols, however, could have been the complete no-trade clause that the Angels built into his contract, something FOXsports.com reporter Ken Rosenthal reported that the Marlins didn't offer the slugger. And, considering the fact he could play designated hitter once he gets older, staying in the national league may not have looked so sweet.
Nevertheless, Pujols fate to move was probably sealed last offseason. Despite Pujols having a no-trade clause while playing with the Cardinals, he still ended up rejecting a multiyear extension from the team after last season, which begged the question of a rift between him and his longtime team.
According to the New York Daily News, the Cardinals and Angels were the two finalists by late Wednesday night, and Lozano engaged the two in intense negotiations that lasted into Thursday morning. ESPN reports that the Angels, who were first reported as an unidentified team in the running, jumped into the bidding late Wednesday. The Angels ultimately trumped the Cardinals because the latter would not go beyond a deal worth around $215 million with deferred money and a non-guaranteed 10th year.
One has to think money and years played huge parts in Pujols' decision to go west, something Pujols himself probably felt the Cardinals could no longer provide. According to ESPN.com, Cardinals reps had planned to talk with Lozano one more time Thursday before heading home. However, the Cardinals' latest offer in stone was for nine years and a little less than $200 million, which would have made Pujols the fourth-highest paid first baseman. Now, taking the Angels deal, he is at the top.
Pujols, who turns 32 in January, led the Cardinals to a World Series title this fall-his second with the team. Soon, he will be looking to lead the Angels to their first title since 2002. He has ten years to do it, but if he doesn't do it sooner than later, many will wonder just how smart the team is for making such a long-term commitment to Pujols, especially as he continues to age.
Pujols, arguably this decade's best hitter, has been on a decline in recent years. Still, he hit 37 home runs last season, his 11th straight season with 30 or more, and batted .299 with 99 runs batted in. For his career he has 445 homeruns (good for 37th on the all-time homeruns list) and is batting .328 with 1329 runs batted in.
Luckily for Pujols, the Angels realized that even his bat alone can't propel the team to the next level. So, they also went out and signed former Texas Rangers ace pitcher C.J. Wilson to a five-year, $77.5 million deal, according to reports.
Wilson was 16-7 with a 2.94 ERA and 206 strikeouts for the Rangers last season and made his only All-Star team. It was only his second full season as a starter after five seasons as a reliever. Next year, he will join a formidable pitching staff fueled by Jered Weaver, Dan Haren and Ervin Santana and will most likely become the second man in the rotation.
Wilson's agent Bob Garber had said, according to ESPN, that his meeting with the Rangers Tuesday was great and that he was pleasantly surprised, but there were signs that the team wasn't comfortable offering five years to the 31-year-old. The Marlins were also in the running for Wilson, who had reportedly received a six-year offer from them worth $100 million, but Wilson being from California may have possibly factored into his decision to play for the Angels.