I'm not going to lie; I was hoping that Albert Pujols would have signed a 10 year contract with the Miami Marlins. The baseball turmoil that would have created would have been wonderful.
We all can see that Miami is recycling it's tried and true plan that consists of over-paying for a few years then putting all the star players on the clearance rack. The team won the World Series twice using the same formula. The plan doesn't work to build long term contenders, the two World Series championships were the only two years the Marlins made the playoffs, and both times as an over-achieving wild card team, but it does fill seats.
The turmoil wasn't in the Marlins plan, but it would have been comically obvious that Miami didn't intend to see a 10 year contract to the finish. While I enjoy seeing an organization go nuts like Miami is trying to, I always root for the biggest splashes to happen. The sad truth of the Pujols free agency, though, is that the St. Louis Cardinals couldn't have been serious about seeing a 10 year contract out, either.
No National League team could possibly think giving a decade long contract to a player who would be 31 at the start of next season would be an investment worth making.
I know that Cardinals fans wanted to see Pujols stay in St. Louis - as a Cleveland Cavaliers fan, I'm keenly aware of what it feels like to lose a player that was on a pedestal - but the Cards are better off without that commitment.
Albert Pujols has kept himself in great shape throughout the years, but as a player ages, he becomes more prone to injury and everyday wear and tear. There's no way to reliably assume that Pujols could play first base defensively for more than five more years, which would leave a National League team with a five years and roughly $110 million dollars left on a contract for a platoon first baseman. Of course, that's a perfect time to trade an aging power hitter to an American League team, but not even the New York Yankees would bite on that contract for a 36 year old. (OK, they probably would, but if we based all of our baseball logic on whether the Yankees would do ridiculous things nothing would ever get solved.)
That situation would completely derail an organization like the Cardinals. Again, being from Cleveland and rooting for the fellow small market, middle of the country Cleveland Indians, I'm very aware of giving the wrong guys too much money for too long. The Cardinals organization did the right thing.
The only place that a 10 year contract for a player of Pujols' stature could make sense is on an American League team that's flush with cash and ready to make a long term run. Enter the Los Angeles Angels.
The Angels signed Pujols to a 10 year, $254 million dollar contract. I'm still not in love with contracts that long, but Pujols definitely has a longer life in the American League. After his time playing first is up, he can easily transition into the designated hitter role. This means that Pujols can anchor the Angels lineup for at least seven of those ten years, and depending on the team's construction, still DH out of the six or seven spot to finish out the contract.
As for the $25 million per year during those last few years, that's just a lump the team is going to have to take. But, there is a spoonful of sugar to help that expensive medicine go down. Consider that, if Pujols produces at the rate in which he has produced in the last five years during the next five years, he's actually underpaid per season. Not only are the Angels getting a deal on the front end of the contract, but there will be so many marketing opportunities around Albert chasing down every offensive record around (and, eventually his farewell tour), that the team won't have any problem making money on the back end of the contract.
Albert Pujols went to the best possible place. The league wins, the Angels win, the Cardinals win, and he wins. The only losers are the Marlins, but they've got Ozzie Guillen keep them occupied.Have MLB questions? Want to argue with me? Are you a Cardinals fan who thinks the team didn't do the right thing by letting Pujols walk? Email me at JoshFlagner@gmail.com, follow me on Twitter at @RailbirdJ and like More Than A Fan on facebook. Check out More Than A Fan Radio on CSF Radio Fridays 7-9pm. Ryan and I talk sports, and probably aggravate everyone.
Sources: Contract Information from Yahoo! Sports