There is nothing worse than writing a column, only to have your computer crash to lose it all. I was 95% done with my Albert Pujols-impending contract column when this happened.
Everyone in St. Louis that follows baseball has read, written, or spoken their piece and Albert Pujols and his deadline to get extended. Here is my take.
The quick rundown is this – Pujols is entering the last year of his contract and has set a deadline to negotiate an extension – the day he reports to Jupiter, Florida for Spring Training. He’s also reportedly seeking a record setting contract and wants to be the highest paid player in the game.
And he’s worth it.
No one can say he’ll be worth $30 million in ten year. Heck, no one can say that he will be in 5 years.
With the way the players suddenly decline in this game, it’s a possibility that he could drop off quickly. Of course, he’s not an ordinary player.
My Contract Offers
If I were the Cardinals, I’d have 2 scenarios I’d run past the slugger.
The first (and most realistic) is to offer 5 years, $150 million [Editor's Note: I originally had "per season" here, which was an error I had pointed out to me (twice)]; I’d also include 5 club options worth between $32-35 million per season. This would be mutually beneficial. The club would have the flexibility to cut ties if/when Pujols does suddenly decline; they’d also be able to ensure he’s a lifelong Cardinal if he doesn’t. Pujols becomes the highest paid player in the game; he even adds more if the options are picked up.
The other option is to give him the amount of years he wants, but have an opt out clause; the most likely scenario would make it due to injuries. If Pujols were to go onto the DL for a specific amount of time, the Cardinals would have the ability to buy out the contract. I think this is key for a player who could be facing Tommy John surgery in the future.
I don’t see either option working; the player’s union would pressure him into getting the most he could get. That happens 9 times out of 10 (the 1 time just happened with Cliff Lee, so the Cardinals may be out of luck there).
The History of the 9 Figure Deal
26 players have received deals worth $100MM or more. Here they are, courtesy of Cot’s Baseball Contracts:
1. Alex Rodriguez, $275,000,000 (2008-17)
2. Alex Rodriguez, $252,000,000 (2001-10)
3. Derek Jeter, $189,000,000 (2001-10)
4. Joe Mauer, $184,000,000 (2011-18)
5. Mark Teixeira, $180,000,000 (2009-16)
6. CC Sabathia, $161,000,000 (2009-15)
7. Manny Ramirez, $160,000,000 (2001-08)
8. Troy Tulowitzki, $157,750,000 (2011-20)
9. Miguel Cabrera, $152,300,000 (2008-15)
10. Carl Crawford, $142,000,000 (2011-17)
11. Todd Helton, $141,500,000 (2003-11)
12. Johan Santana, $137,500,000 (2008-13)
13. Alfonso Soriano, $136,000,000 (2007-14)
14. Vernon Wells, $126,000,000 (2008-14)
… Barry Zito, $126,000,000 (2007-13)
… Jayson Werth, $126,000,000 (2011-17)
17. Ryan Howard, $125,000,000 (2012-16)
18. Mike Hampton, $121,000,000 (2001-08)
19. Jason Giambi, $120,000,000 (2002-08)
… Matt Holliday, $120,000,000 (2010-16)
… Cliff Lee, $120,000,000 (2011-15)
22. Carlos Beltran, $119,000,000 (2005-11)
23. Ken Griffey Jr., $116,500,000 (2000-08)
24. Kevin Brown, $105,000,000 (1999-2005)
25. Carlos Lee, $100,000,000 (2007-12)
… Albert Pujols, $100,000,000 (2004-10)
Of the hitters who have played under these contracts, here is the WAR per year and total WAR of the deals:
- Alex Rodriguez 7.5 WAR/Yr (52.6 WAR) – This was for 2001-2007; his new, more expensive deal replaced the final 3 years of this one.
- Matt Holliday 5.5 WAR/Yr (5.5 WAR) – It’s only 1 year, and a lot of the guys on the list started their large contracts well.
- Mark Teixeira 5.0 WAR/Yr (10.1 WAR) – Tex is in the second year of his deal. He was only 30 when he signed his deal, so he’s a pretty good comp for Pujols (who just turned 31). Too bad we can’t see more of what Tex does before Pujols signs.
- Miguel Cabrera 4.8 WAR/Yr (14.4 WAR) – Cabrera is a bad comp, as he just turned 27 last year. He posted a career high WAR of 6.9.
- Carlos Beltran 4.7 WAR/Yr (28.4 WAR) – Beltran signed his deal at 28. He’s battled injuries the last 2 years, which shows in his low WAR; the jury is out until he can get completely healthy.
- Derek Jeter 4.3 WAR/Yr (43.1 WAR) – The final year of the deal, Jeter was 36 and had a WAR of 1.3.
- Manny Ramirez 4.3 WAR/Yr (34.8 WAR) – Manny’s final year of his deal was worth 6.2 WAR at age 36; he has since declined fast, averaging 2.2 WAR/Yr since then.
- Alex Rodriguez 4.1 WAR/Yr (12.2 WAR) – It’s been 3 years of this deal so far. A-Rod was 34 in 2011 and had a WAR of 2.9; it’s the lowest he’s had since 1995.
- Todd Helton 4.0 WAR/Yr (31.7 WAR) – Helton may be a good comp; similar position, decent power, etc. Helton signed this deal at the age of 27; 2010, at age 36, was his lowest WAR (0.4) since his rookie season.
- Jason Giambi 3.1 WAR/Yr (21.8 WAR) – Giambi also signed his deal when he was 31, plays the same position, and had power; another good comp. The difference was Giambi is a known steroid user (at least now he was). He missed parts of 2 seasons. The final year, at age 37, saw a WAR of 1.8.
- Vernon Wells 1.9 WAR/Yr (5.7 WAR) – Wells’ deal looked bad at the time and looks as bad now. Even with a decent 2010 (3.4 WAR; age 31), it’s hard to expect him to match the 6.7 WAR of 2006. (What’s even more puzzling about this extension was the fact he received it coming off a season where he had a WAR of 1.9)
- Alfonso Soriano 1.6 WAR/Yr (6.3 WAR) – What a disaster – only 4 years in and Soriano is making the Cubs regret this deal. The scary thing is he was 31 when he received the deal and came of a 5.7 WAR season before the deal. In 2010, he had a WAR of 1.4.
- Ken Griffey Jr 1.2 WAR/Yr (11.0 WAR) – Griffey was supposed to be the second coming of Willie Mays; instead he spent most of this contract battling tons of injuries. He’s the worst case scenario; his final year, at age 38, saw a WAR of -0.1.
- Carlos Lee 0.8 WAR/Yr (3.0 WAR) – This one can’t ever be considered comparable. Lee’s high WAR was 4.6 in 2004;3 years before he signed this deal. His high in Houston was 2.6; he had a -1.6 WAR last year at age 34.
Albert Pujols can’t be his own comp; especially since he’ll what he’s done may not happen again.
Next week, I might compare Pujols to the value of other first baseman. I might not though since his value is above all others at the position.