The Pujols Contract

Earlier this week, Cardinals owner Bill Dewitt told Jon Paul Morosi that he was “hopeful” that his team would be able to come to terms on a contract extension with Albert Pujols, who is scheduled to become The Free Agent To End All Free Agents next winter. The obvious question that looms over everything is just what kind of contract is fair for one of the best hitters to ever live.

It is easy to forget just how great Pujols is, but to put it in perspective, he’s on an entirely different plane than the rest of the league. For instance, the Red Sox gave up a significant chunk of their farm system for the right to pay Adrian Gonzalez about $150 million dollars (whenever that deal becomes official, anyway), and yet, Gonzalez’s best year is only marginally better than Pujols’ worst year. I think this graph kind of tells the story.

Gonzalez and Mark Teixeira are both elite players, and are being paid accordingly. Stack them up next to Pujols, though, and they look like scrubs. He dwarfs even the best active first baseman, and his only true peers now reside in Cooperstown. What’s fair market value for a player with these skills?

Let’s start with the working assumption that wins are currently being priced at about $5 million apiece this winter. For his career, Pujols has averaged +7.1 WAR per 600 PA, and that actually understates his value, because his career low in a season is 634 plate appearances. He’s been both amazingly valuable and remarkably durable. Still, headed into his age 31 season, we have to assume that he can’t sustain this level of greatness forever, and that his body will start to make him take some days off eventually. Let’s project him as a +7 win player for 2011, just to play it safe. You could argue for a bit higher number, but this will at least give us a baseline.

If we use the standard half-win-decrease-per-year aging curve, our ten year projection for Pujols would have him producing +47.5 wins between now and 2020. But he’s already under contract for 2011, so we should remove that from the equation, and just focus on 2012 and beyond. A deal that took him through 2021 would produce an expected +42.5 WAR, and if we assume a steady rate of 5% salary inflation, the value of those wins would be $267 million.

If 10/267 sounds remarkably close to what Alex Rodriguez got, then it is. They’re pretty similar players through this stage of their career. Pujols is a bit better hitter – his career wRC+ of 173 bests Rodriguez’s 153 mark through 2007, the year he opted out and signed his 10 year extension – but Rodriguez offered the potential of being able to play a tougher defensive position. When someone holds up Rodriguez’s deal as an example of the type of contract that Pujols should receive, they’re not grasping at straws; the numbers support a fair market value in that neighborhood.

Even if Pujols gives the Cardinals a 10 percent hometown discount, we’re still looking at his value being in the neighborhood of $240 million or so. If he wants his talents to be reflected in his next contract, the Cardinals are going to have to get somewhere near that number in order to give him separation from the likes of Teixeira and Joe Mauer, who each received $180 million deals and simply aren’t as good as he is.

The good news for the Cardinals is that, barring a catastrophic injury, he’ll probably be worth the money. There’s likely going to be some sticker shock, but he’s the kind of player you go all out for. Even if it costs $250 million to keep him, he deserves it. He’s that good.




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Dave is a co-founder of USSMariner.com and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.

150 Responses to “The Pujols Contract”

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  1. Joe R says:

    The Cardinals, FWIW, don’t have to do this deal immediately in my opinion.

    The Angels and Mets might be able to make a run at Albert in the 2011-12 offseason, but other than that, the Yankees/Red Sox/Phillies (lol) already have their 1st baseman.

    The Cubs might go after him, too, but I can’t imagine the Cardinals would ever let that happen.

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    • patrick says:

      If Pujols gets to FA, the Cards dont have an option to ‘not let that happen’ with regards to the Cubs

      10 years $306 million with the Angels.

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      • notsellingjeans says:

        Arte Moreno flinched at $125M for Crawford and was outbid by $17M.

        Now you are predicting that he will open up his wallet for a $306M contract next offseason.

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      • Telo says:

        Cards sign him before spring training@ 9y/234mil

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      • Fred says:

        9/233.9 sir, get it right

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      • baty says:

        Hasn’t Albert’s right arm been “half dead” the last few years? Or can he finally straighten it out? (haha) It seems that he’s been able to push through several nagging injuries, but when might that change?

        Giving a 31 year old a 9-10 year deal of that magnitude, even with his amazing capability, seems beyond risky.

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      • Guy says:

        @baty: you don’t expect him to be earning the 30 mil in the final years of his contract, but you take that risk because he is a great building block for a championship caliber team and will likely give you a legit shot for at least 5 years. yankees shouldn’t want to take a-rod’s contract back for that reason.

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      • baty says:

        If the Cardinals can extend him at a discount, then fine… But if he hits the open market, the Yankees have the power to drive his price into crazy territory.

        The Yankees and ARod are a pretty simple example to use. They’ll always be the organization where overpaid old timers can go to fizzle away without too much concern, as long as they temporarily solve a piece to the playoff puzzle. They can take the backend issues of those deals without regret. If Albert hits the open market, I start to wonder about potential parallels to the Texas/ARod weirdness.

        I’m all for taking the bad with the good, but with a player as nostalgic as Pujols, I’m curious if the situation can get to the point where the bad might outweigh the good.

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    • Colin says:

      I think the Nats should be added to the list of possible teams.

      They signed Werth to a huge deal, offered Teixeira more than the Yankees, and reportedly, offered Greinke a boatload of money in trade, before he used his non-trade clause. They’re willing to spend money on premier players.

      They have a stop-gap first basemen currently (LaRoche) and no Mike Rizzo type 1b in the system (good offense and defense).

      And with their current low payroll, they’d still be below $100M if they signed him. His contract wouldn’t hamstring the team from making other deals (as it will the Cards). (This of course, neglects a Ryan Zimmerman extension).

      Not that I think it will happen, I just think they should be on the list.

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      • Ben says:

        Very much agree. If you told me now that Pujols ends up with a $300 million contract, I would assume it’s the Nats who gave it to him. They’ve been actively after the top free agents for a couple years now, and they have shown they are willing to pay above market price to get them.

        Still think he sticks with the Cards, but the Nats should absolutely be included in a list of potential suitors.

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    • Dave M says:

      One of the big-spending teams is likely going to have Prince Fielder signed to a big contract by then, and won’t be willing to pay $20+ million for a DH and $30+ million for a 1B, even though that pair of bats would be some combination of epic and legendary.

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      • patrick says:

        why is fielder going to be signed before pujols? why would a team sign him which would stop them from signing pujols?…they’re FA the same year.

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      • Guy says:

        Fielder will NOT sign before Pujols if they both make it to free agency.

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      • baty says:

        I think Fielder is going to be a really tough sign. Considering his age, semi-sporadic production (especially against lefties), physical build, and defensive inability… I’m not sure what to think of him.

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    • Dan Miller says:

      You think that because the Yankees are paying Texeira all that money to play first base they won’t make a run at Pujols??? As long as the AL still has a DH, the Yankees will be in the running. Also, St. Louis thinking they’re going to sign Pujols without him testing the market is wishful thinking. Pujols is going to get millions of dollars more per year by going on the market. There’s no way he’s going to sign anything until he hears all the offers. Even if he really wants to finish his career in St. Louis (which is up for debate), he’ll still wait for the free agent frenzy to drive his price even higher. Personally, I think he’ll switch teams. Just about everybody is going to make some kind of offer, but the Angels in particular are going to have money after striking out on everybody this winter, and anybody that thinks the Yankees are out of this bidding war because they already have a high priced forst baseman is crazy. I don’t think St. Louis is going to be able to match the offers he gets. Hometown discount? I’ll believe it when I see it. They all say they want to stay where they are, but then they all end up chasing the dollars.

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      • Joe R says:

        Even the Yankees have to have a limit to how much they’ll spend. They’ll have around $145 million tied up on 8 players (and they haven’t even re-signed Cano yet, who has to be priority #1 given the roster construction). Sure they might play, but I really cannot imagine they’ll outbid.

        If he does go to NYY, it’s the pinstripe discount.

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  2. eastsider says:

    At first when I saw that headline I thought it meant that the deal was done and now you were analyzing the contract. As a Cardinal fan, I have to say that as a result, your article is a bit of a disappointment. :)

    The WAR graph is an excellent visualization of how great Pujols has been. I liked the line, “Gonzalez’s best year is only marginally better than Pujols’ worst year.”

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      At first when I saw that headline I thought it meant that the deal was done and now you were analyzing the contract. As a Cardinal fan, I have to say that as a result, your article is a bit of a disappointment. :)

      Same here. The title should have said “Albert Pujols’s Value” or whatever. The title does make it sound as if a contract was just signed, which was horribly dissapointing to find out that was not the case.

      Looking at Albert’s past value, in millions, compared to what he has been paid, there’s essentially no realistic way for him to be over-paid in his career as a Cardinal. He’s been worth ~300M in value and has made ~105M. Like I said, there is no real way to overpay him.

      Not that you want to go drastically overboard and overpay him greatly for the next 10 years to “balance it out” … but if you did overpay some, you’d know that overall, the team was still far ahead.

      I think you could justify anywhere from 30-35M per year. The problm, for me, is a 10 year deal.

      However, if that’s what it takes to keep in him Cardinal red till the day he walks away … do it. He is literally “the franchise”. He will be for this and the future generations what Stan Musial is for the past 3 generations of baseball fans. Pujols will be “THE Cardinals” for this Century. I’m not suggesting you PAY for that necessarily, onlt that you don;t let that player play in another organization.

      There is absolutely no way AP5 can play for the Cubs. It’s repulsive just to think about it.

      I think the Cardinals NEED to get a deal done NOW, otherwise this story is going to be continually discussed throughout the season. It may not be distracting to AP5, but it very well could be for the team, front office, and manager.

      If it takes 10/300 to sign him, then I would do that. If the value follows the average path, where it’s only worth 267M over 10y, or an average overpay of 3M/y … that’s acceptable, IMO.

      Pujols is not going to be one of those players that keeps playing when he is perofrming well beneath his own expected level. He’ll retire before he plods through 2 WAR seasons. So, I don’t think there’s a huge risk in terms of him beinf a league average player collecting 30M/y for multiple years.

      The concern about a major deal for Pujols is the affect it will have on Wainwirght’s contract. Carpenter is likely a high money short duration contract his next time around. Wainwright is the long-term high-money pitcher. StL is going to be int eh situation where 1/2 of their payroll is invested into 3 guys. For a team that does not use advanced metrics to find value or market inefficiencies, that’s likely not a good situation.

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      • Fred says:

        You don’t really come to fangraphs for news, just for analysis. While the title might draw more random people to read it it would be shocking to have heard it here first and not just randomly. In fact it should be a national broadcast breaking news when he gets signed.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        I pretty much read FG, Tango’s Blog, and THT … and don’t generally watch TV.

        FG generally has an article the same day as big signings. So, the collection of sabermetric sites are generally a decent place to get “news”.

        But, point taken. It just got my hopes up. It’s not like I’m mad or anything. There is the sentiment among some that if StL is not able to get a deal done with Pujols that a trade is possible, thinking that Berkman could play 1B, and the trade could restock the farm system (and money saved would go to AW50 and CR28). I don’t like thinking about that situation.

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      • Oscar says:

        If Pujols retires, he still collects his paychecks. There’s no chance that whatever team signs him somehow gets out of paying some of it.

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    • Albert Lyu says:

      Remember that Pujols played 1B for the majority of his career while Rodriguez played 3B/SS.

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      • Sandy Kazmir says:

        Thanks, Albert. That really puts in perspective just how amazing A-Rod was when he was younger and continues to be as he defies gravity.

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      • Jeffrey Gross says:

        Both Pujols and ARod could end up with 140 WAR for their career. I doubt either reaches the Hank Aaron plateau (150 WAR), but would not be shocked if they did.

        Then again, to do this, they have to remain totally injury free. Arod’s hip and Pujol’s elbow might have the final say.

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      • TOLAXOR says:

        AND THEN, THERE’S THE ‘ROIDS, OF COURSE…

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      • Barkey Walker says:

        I’m not sure we know how ARod will age. We haven’t seen a strong player… uh, from his era… age before. He is on a three year slide of almost 2 WAR/year that he may not recover from. I’m not saying that he will have a 2013 WAR of 0, but he might level off at 3ish as he decides to focus on swinging to the fences and they start to look further away.

        Over the next few years, the yankees are in danger of having to supply the rest of the AL with trades that are cash + a position player that recently became a DH on a long contract.

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      • Cody Vaughn says:

        Doesn’t WAR include positional runs and replacement value?

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    • Ben says:

      In both cases, those are some remarkably/stunningly straight lines between ages 21-30. Really speaks to both players’ greatness.

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  3. chuckb says:

    While I agree with most of this article, I think it’s reasonable to conclude that Pujols’ decline may not follow the anticipated “0.5 WAR per year” decline. Alex Rodriguez has declined at a much faster rate and you’ve thusly described his contract as the worst in the game, by a lot. Pujols is a bigger man and has been banged up throughout his career. Though he’s only been on the DL once, he’s been fighting leg, arm, and foot issues for years so I’m not sanguine that he’ll age particularly gracefully.

    I think he’ll end up around 8/$220 with his contract. I only hope that, 4-5 years from now, we’re not referring to his contract as “the worst in the game, by a lot.”

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    • Sandy Kazmir says:

      Though it works out pretty close, I prefer to knock 10% off for each year:
      Year 10% (0.5)
      1 7.0 7.0
      2 6.3 6.5
      3 5.7 6.0
      4 5.1 5.5
      5 4.6 5.0
      6 4.1 4.5
      7 3.7 4.0
      8 3.3 3.5
      9 3.0 3.0
      10 2.7 2.5
      Someday I might even try to prove this, but I think this follows an aging pattern better than just deducting half a win and calling it a day.

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      • Sandy Kazmir says:

        It’s not a huge difference but you’re talking about $9.5M difference in the aggregate between Dave’s $237.5 and what would be $228 with the 10% discounting method

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    • Derek says:

      Don’t forget A-Rod took Roids

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    • Jimbo says:

      Good point about the rate of erosion. Perhaps a ‘standard’ WAR deteriorates at a certain rate, but when dealing with one of the highest WAR trends of our generation does 0.5 still apply? Should it be more (since he’s starting from a higher point), or less in his early 30′s (since he already broke the mold).

      Also, I don’t know of a standard rate of $$ per WAR is usable. Just like the Yankees/Red Sox will pay a premium for additional wins, there aren’t many players who pack so many wins into one position. So every win above 5 might cost $10 mln each…

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  4. Mike Savino says:

    second eastsider on the expectation that a deal was done.

    I know Pujols may be worth that much but…man, a quarter of a billion dollars. Just think about how….frigging…ridiculous that is.

    I also have a bit of a question regarding marginal price per win. It cannot be strictly linear–there has to be an upper ceiling because teams have limited payrolls and must allocate other resources to fill the roster. No matter if Albert Pujols is worth 15 wins a year, he cannot be payed $75 MM. Because that would be the entire payroll. Even though that would be a “fair” deal, its just too much money. And a 15 win player and a bunch of scrubs does not a champion make.

    I think, fangraphs writers, we need to take a much harder look at player values. Its not enough to say a marginal win is worth $5 million at all. I know the team’s place in the standings is accounted for when valuing that marginal win but it also must be accounted that each additional win a player provides cannot be paid as much as the previous win. It seems to me there would be a sweetspot–like, a team full of 5 win players is what most teams would strive for.

    If the Cardinals sign Pujols for $30 million per season but have to give back some of the wins he produces because they can’t spend on a second baseman or shortstop, then, he’s not really worth $30 million especially because if he gets hurt, the team is doomed. There’s just too much risk. Every team has a budget.

    I guess I’m thinking about it in the sense that no team could afford Pujols if he were to be paid at a fair market rate and thus his marginal win value must be lower. Perhaps the Red Sox and Yankees could afford to pay Pujols market rates but they’re already paying Adrian and Teixiera. Therefore, without anyone willing to pay $5 million per win in the case of Pujols, he cannot be worth $5 million.

    That is all.

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    • Patrick says:

      I think the concept of evaluating free agent contracts in a vacuum based on a certain dollar per win valuation only takes you so far. Picture a team of replacement players (roughly, what, 40 wins per year?), and then the team adding $200 million worth of free agent contracts for players worth 40 wins. Looking at each contract individually, you might say they were good or fair contracts, but this team would now be paying $200 million to field an 80-win squad.

      Obviously no team would do that, because baseball allows teams to field valuable players at a fraction of their free agent value, but I guess I’m just trying to say that we can’t just look at whether a contract “fits” with market value.

      Or, possibly, I am confused and rambling.

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      • Barkey Walker says:

        Well, we don’t actually know what the market rate is for a win. We just know what the market rate is in the current distorted market.

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      • Los says:

        Patrick,

        That is why building a team through free agency is so difficult. The amount for a win is in terms of free agents. You need cost-controlled talent to succeed in the majors. It gets too expensive to properly build a team that way.

        Event the Yankees and Sox have a fair deal of homegrown players that are being paid well under market value.

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      • MikeS says:

        You are neither confused or rambling. I feel the same way. Several articles have been written about the marginal value of a win to different teams depending where they are on the curve of bad to good. For the pirates to pay for 10/300 makes no sense, for the Angels it makes a lot more.

        I think it’s also important to note that teams value wins differently. The Yankees or Red Sox are willing and able to pay a lot more per WAR than the Rays, even though all three are in a similar position on that same curve.

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      • Joe says:

        In addition to marginal wins on a team level, I also take some stock in what others have proposed about a sliding scale on WAR for a given player (as opposed to a fix $/WAR rate).

        In other words if the aggregate $/WAR is say 5mil for free agents is it linear? Is the difference between a 4 and 5WAR player the same as the difference between a 0.5 and 1.5 WAR player? On paper you can argue this is the case (both scenarios theoretically mean 1 additional win), but when you consider scarcity, roster flexibility they might not be… It’s similar to paying 20mil to a 6 WAR player vs combined 20mil to three 2 WAR players (or in an extreme case six 1 WAR players).

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      • Mike Savino says:

        That wasn’t really what I was trying to convey. Its very clear that the 95th win is far more valuable than the 82nd win because win number 95 pretty much punches playoff tickets and that’s worth a great deal of money not to mention the excitement of a penant race and and all the fans showing up for the last few months of the season.

        What I am asking is that even if a player is worth 15 wins on a season and those 15 wins push a team from 80 wins to 95 wins (and I know 15 wins is ridiculous), is that player still worth $75 million? No team can afford to put 30% of their payroll (or if the team we’re talking about is say…the Padres, 160%) into one player. Even if that player is actually worth 15 wins, the risk is just too great.

        Pujols projecting at conservatively 7 wins a season for the next few seasons would be worth $35+ million. Small market teams might have payrolls less than $35 million and thus would never even consider paying that much. Its not the value of the wins any more, its the risk that along with it.

        Let me try to say this more clearly:

        A player like Pujols projected at, say, 8 wins is worth $40 million a year. Each of two 4 win players at $20 million per (and, yeah, that’s ridiculous too). A team would much rather take the two 4 win players because a) they have upside which the team would have to assume Pujols cannot be better than he already is and therefore they have a chance for surplus value and b) they spread the injury/bad year risk around.

        Basically what I’m saying is that a straight evaluation of Pujol’s value by simply looking at the wins he produces cannot possibly convey his value to teams. His value is far less than $5 million per win per season. Despite his excellent track record of health and durability it would be naive to assume he’ll never hit the DL for the better portion of a season. Or have a season like Alex Rodriguez’ last year. When he does one of those things, the team will have no chance to compete because the 8 wins expected from Pujols will be 2 wins or 4 wins.

        I guess what I mean is that $5 million dollars per win makes sense if the team is spreading the risk around. But $5 million per win for a single player cannot be the rate because a team has a much better choice by signing multiple players. Therefore, elite players are hurt by this and Pujols is the elitest of the elitites.

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    • Jake R says:

      Valuation, in a risk free setting, would not be linear. In this hypothetical setting, player cost per win would increase as player win value increases.

      The fact that more expensive players are riskier bets for an organization is precisely the factor that maintains the linearity of the valuation curve. The market already accounts for risk.

      Any situation in which you look at FA values as if teams are constructed entirely via FA or with replacement level players will make FA contracts look absurdly expensive. But, why would you do that? That isn’t the MLB marketplace and the hypothetical alternative tells us nothing useful. Using a hypothetical that involves a player twice as productive as an inner circle HoF is, similarly, not particularly useful.

      Pujols, on the open market, probably is worth about 10/300 (the original author’s use of a 7 win baseline is about a win too low based on Pujols production over the last 8 years). 10/260 is probably a reasonable extension for both sides, factoring in both a slight hometown discount and the fact that Pujols will be eliminating his risk of getting injured in the next year and seriously damaging his long term value.

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    • Jeffrey Gross says:

      And the award for not reading the above comments goes to me

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    • patrick says:

      jesus….arods 8th best season was as good as mauers last year…nuts

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    • Hasan says:

      Glad you posted these examples. And totally unrelated, but loved your Top 100 pitchers list on THT.

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    • BPDELIA says:

      man it’s easy sometimes to forget just how great the greatest players in the game are. Players like Bonds, Pujols, Rodriguez. Over the course of a career we tend to focus on small slices but these types of guys are so damn rare. That graph showing Mauer’s best season as Rdriguez’s 8th best are quite something. We’ve been lucky to see these guys play. To me Pujols gets 10 /301. OR figure out what Rodriguez’s contract ACTUALLY will be and pay Pujols one dollar more. He doesn’t really ahve an argument for being far and away a better (or at lest more valuable and productive) than Arod so he shuold basically get the same contract.

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  5. notsellingjeans says:

    You don’t normally do this with superstars, but…

    The Yankees could rotate him and Tex at 1b/DH, or even give Pujols some time at 3b and rotate A-Rod, Pujols and Tex between 1b/3b/DH…

    They have Posada’s $13M at DH coming off the books next season.

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  6. Omaha Cov says:

    Please don’t ever say again that a baseball player deserves $250 million dollars. However, it is the market value for someone with his skillset.

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    • Telo says:

      He.. doesn’t deserve $250mil? Are you a communist? He’s worth what he’s worth.

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      • JH says:

        You realize that placing an artificial cap on the price of a “worker” despite the fact that he produces more than that income ceiling the exact opposite of communism, right?

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      • Theo says:

        He’s saying that no one who plays baseball for a living deserves to be paid $250MM, but that it is the market rate — i.e., the market is absolutely bloody ridiculous.

        I tend to agree.

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      • Mr wOBAto says:

        “From each according to his needs, to each according to his needs” so as long a worker can prove his need for 250 million dollars the state will provide it?

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        Supply and demand.

        The real point is that entertainment plays far too great of a role in our society. A top level actor can make 20M for one movie.

        The money is going to be made by someone, I’d rather it be the person performing.

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      • Joe R says:

        @CircleChange11

        Good comment, I’m always amused when people complain about how much players make.

        Sure, life sucks, we work hard for 5 figures and they play a game for 8, but who else would get that money? The owners? That’s pretty much it. It’s why they opposed free agency so much.

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  7. hunterfan says:

    I think at the upper ends of jinormous deals, one has to examine the market for said product or individual.

    Pujols might be “worth” an A-Rod contract, but who are the Cardinals competing with? The Yankees, the Sox and the Phillies already have first basemen. I don’t see a lot of team being able to afford Pujols. The Cardinals might get a “deal” here if they play hardball.

    I don’t know that they want to play hardball with their franchise player, but I could easily envision a situation where they could underpay the A-Rod contract by about 1/3, despite the fact that Pujols might be worth it.

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    • GZ says:

      This is exactly the situation where you play hardball – because the numbers are so large. Losing him isn’t the end of the Cardinals as a competitive team. Many teams go to the playoffs with worse cores than Holliday, Rasmus, and Wainwright.

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      • ofMontreal says:

        But it puts them in the same puddle as the rest of the division. And destroys a lot of credibility. This isn’t Arod leaving Seattle here. Pujols is beloved and the ‘heart of the team’. I kind of say F the budget on this one. Something I think a lot more teams could say as well. We operate in a sphere of artificial constraints using this logic.

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      • siggian says:

        The fact that the Yankees already have a high priced 1B would not prevent them from trying to sign a massive contract with Pujols.

        Evidence: see their Soriano signing.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        Losing him isn’t the end of the Cardinals as a competitive team.

        I disagree with that. I think if AP leaves, the Cardinals are on the level of the Cubs. The most amazing thing about Pujols, outside of the obvious skill and consistency, is the absolute crap OBP’s that hit in front of him.

        We can say Carp, Wain, Holliday, and Rasmus all we want. But, that’s not the case. 8 WAR out of one player, year after year, is just amazing.

        You basically get the production of 2 All-Stars in one position or roster slot. Because of this and their division, StL is able to cut corners on a lot of positions. AP5 simply erases GM and manager mistakes.

        I think the cardinals are in a position to potentially play hardball, due to being one of the few teams that can use and pay him

        I think I question “why would you want to?” AP5 has never discussed contracts through the season. He’s never threatened to sit out or ask for a trade is a new deal, or extension was not made. Simply put, whenever he has had all the leverage, he did not exploit it, not once. He could have held the organization hostage for a mega extension (even though he had a current contract), but he did not. Why, in turn, would you chose to play hardball with him?

        Really, the cardinals need AP5 more than he needs the Cardinals, and I think that’s different than the Jeter situation. I see no real reason to get tough with Albert.

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      • hunterfan says:

        ‘Why, in turn, would you chose to play hardball with him?’

        Because businesses often underestimate things like customer good will and the subsequent revenue that can create, in favor of concrete revenue gains and losses.

        Businesses will often do things that aren’t nice, if doing so will save them truckloads of money.

        If by playing hardball, the Cards feel they’ll be able to retain Pujols AND save $50 million dollars, that would be a powerful incentive, would it not?

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        Understood. I was thinking by “playing hardball” it would mean trying to severely underpaying with the idea that other teams already had 1B’s under contract. If they can save 50M while still giving AP5 a long-term contract for fair money while saving some, good for them.

        I was thinking that “playing hardball” would basically be trying to muscle him into a deal far below what is worth. I was just thinking “why risk pissing off the face of your franchise, who has been nothing but awesome day-in and day-out?”

        Like I said, StL needs AP5 more than AP5 needs StL. StL can try to play hardball all they want. It doesn’t make any sense due to AP5′s greatest leverage being “Oh, so you want me to play for the Cubs?” That would be disastrous for StL in a variety of ways.

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      • hunterfan says:

        Circle: What I’m getting at is that I think the Cards could low-ball him a bit. Not a total strong arm, but might not have to pay him what this author speculates as A-Rod money.

        I’m probably not making total sense here, but what I’m getting it is all the big boys are more than likely out. If they are out, who is left that’s going to give out $200+ million contracts? The Angels? This offseason has shown they’re not going to give out money like candy. The Cubbies? Maybe…but even though they have some money coming off the books, are they really in a position to add that kind of salary? Who else? The Nats? That’s a stretch.

        Moreover, is Albert really going to want to go to the Nats or the Cubbies just for a few mil extra a year? They’re not really winners now, and probably won’t be for the next few years either. The Cards contend for their division year after year.

        So who is going to bid for Albert that’s going to be much more appealing? Is the difference between $220 million and $260 million going to cause Albert to pack up his family and move to Washington D.C. and play for a crappy club? He just doesn’t seem like that kind of guy to me.

        My best guess is that if the Cardinals make an offer that’s within range of whatever number he has in his head, he’ll take it, whether it’s precisely fair market value or not. That’s what I meant by low-balling him.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        I agree with that.

        I don’t know AP5 personally (duh), but he seems like the kind of guy that would accept an offer in a certain range to stay where he’s happy. He’s very active with his charity in StL, is adored everywhere he goes, and has played on enough winning teams in StL.

        It seems crazy to us that a player would make a big deal about 22M/y v. 26M/y … but over 10 years (if that would be the length of the contract), that would be 40M bucks, which isn’t exactly peanuts.

        I’m doubtful that the length of the deal would be 10M, b/c I don’t think AP5 wants to play until he’s 41, although I don;t know why I think that. I would think something like 7/175 would be about what he’s looking for. Finishes his career is StL, and is among the top few highest paid players, while still playing in a compeittive environment.

        He doesn’t seem like the type of guy that would simply hold out for the highest bid, but he’s not going to tak a “hometown discount”, especially given how much more over his contract he has performed.

        Again I’m just speculating, but I think he wants to do a “new contract” only once. He doesn’t seem to really enjoy the process … or talking about it.

        It really depends on what “market value” is. If it’s the figures used here ($/WAR), he’d be worth 30M/y, and I don’t think any team is going to cough that up, especially for 7-10 years. But, who knows, if he put the Cubs v. Cards in terms of who would meet the demand, one of them might. *Shrugs* Given the location of the teams and the history betwen the two, anything could happen.

        I’m hoping that within the next fe weeks we read about a 7/175ish type deal that both sides agree on.

        The scary part is that some sources are reporting the idea that 25M/y is the minimum. In that case, the length of the contract is the critical component.

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      • BPDELIA says:

        See if the Cards want to save here the way to go is to up the AAV and cut the years. How about 7 years 220 mil. That assures Pujols the highest contract, eliminates the three riskiest years and lets him be paid as the best player in the game.

        If I were Pujols I’d come back at 7 235 and maybe they settle at 7/228.

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    • Jon says:

      How much economic value is there for Pujols if he stays in St. Louis, outside than his player contract? In the Jeter circus last month, I remember people thinking that Jeter would make more endorsement money by playing in New York as the face of the Yankees, rather than as just some aging, above-average offensive shortstop in another market. Not sure I ever saw any hard analysis of the numbers involved, though.

      That is: say Pujols accepts a contract offer from the Cardinals that’s on the lowside, but still relatively fair — could he make up the $$ difference between that and a hypothetical higher offer from the Angels, Cubs, Nats, etc., with endorsement deals and other perks? I guess he’d be the biggest *name* on the Angels/Cubs/etc (though maybe not on the Nats, going forward) … but other fans wouldn’t have the same kind of “homegrown superstar/World Champion” emotional connection that St. Louis fans have. I’m curious what kind of outside money he makes currently, and how much he could bring in under a new contract as an all-but-certain career Cardinal.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        I don’t think AP5 is a big endorsement guy. When I go to Cardinal games, however, I see far more #5 jerseys and t-shirts than anyone else (perhaps all others combined).

        I also wonder how many fans are there just to see the great Pujols. Certainly a large % of them are there to see [1] baseball, [2] the cardinals.

        But, I have to think some of them are there just to see the greatest hitter of this generation. But, I wouldn;t know exactly how much additional revenue he generates for the club.

        The thing about AP5, is that he’ll take his endorsement earning power and revenue ability wherever he goes. I don;t think StL is a national stage as much as larger cities on the coasts, especially the northeast. StL is basically smack dab in the middle of the midwest, which doesn;t appear to be a large national market.

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      • Rich says:

        Commenting strictly on your mention of endorsements and popularity, I can tell you that Pujols would end up on every cereal box, anti-perspirant commerial, boxer/brief package etc., whether he liked it or not.

        Chicago is a town that lives for guys like Pujols. You know, the larger-than-life, demi-god athlete like Jordan, Payton, Sosa, who can be thrust into the spotlight and loved by the championship-hungry fans. It doesn’t matter if the athlete has the outgoing persona like Sosa, or the more reserved nature, like Jordan and Payton. Chicago fans don’t care.

        They fall in love with those guys and put them up on the pedestal whether he wants it or not.

        Forget the cute “homegrown superstar/World Champion” connection. That’s kid’s play compared to the “All-out Baseball Savior of the World” should he lead the Cubs deep into the playoffs.

        I don’t know which would be more satifying for Cub fans if he were to lead them to a WS title:

        Actually breaking the incomprehensible 102+ year drought…

        ….Or looking back over their shoulders at the Cardinals organization as they hoist him up onto those same shoulders.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        It doesn’t matter if the athlete has the outgoing persona like Sosa, or the more reserved nature, like Jordan and Payton. Chicago fans don’t care.

        Are you sure you want to use Sosa as an example of how Chicago fans don’t care about their athlete’s personality?

        The other guys you mentioned were among the best in the game for their careers, the whole country loves them.

        Chicago turned on Sosa quickly, and when he left it was “good riddance”. Ask Jay Cutler how loyal and appreciative Chicago fans are.

        Pujols would be different though because he’s a dominant athlete and just goes about his business. Chicago would likely revere him … but that’s nothing special about Chicago, every team would do the same.

        As for endorsements … I was stating that AP5 does not seek them out. He’s on a Wheaties box and is in catalogs endorsing the wood bat he uses, etc.

        Chicago has also soured on Soriano. They are really no more loyal than any other sports fan.

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  8. Dave Dombrowski says:

    great graph – the best active first baseman other than Pujols is Cabrera

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  9. B Dub says:

    I realize 5% inflation may be a convenient assumption (or even perhaps in-line with historical trends), but inflation certainly isn’t 5% (nor is the likely growth in MLB revenues), so the 5% assumption in perpetuity implies baseball players will make ever higher proportion of teams’ profits and broader economy. Perhaps that’s been true in recent years, but can’t be in perpetuity.

    Perhaps not a crazy assumption over short periods (sub 10 years perhaps) but dangerous to use such a high value in net present value formulas. Not sure how much the answer changes with 3% inflation, etc.

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    • Joe R says:

      I’d feel better w/ 3% myself. It seems wrong to inflate the nominal value of a skill set over inflation perpetually, because after awhile the buyers just won’t keep up. Add in that there’s only 30 buyers, and it becomes obvious why 5% doesn’t seem right.

      If we adjust for inflation of 3% / year, it implies teams will pay 21.2% more in 2020 than in 2010, when salaries are already booming. Given the growth rate of salaries has been declining (aka the second derivative of x w/ respect to y is negative, as explained right on this site), 21.2% more seems like a ton.

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  10. mister_rob says:

    Look at the Cards lineup right now. 5 weak hitters (theriot, schumaker, freese, molina, pitcher) out of 9. and thats if Berkman bounces back and can actually play the OF. Otherwise 6 blah hitters
    Once they give Pujols more money, it will basically insure that Rasmus will be gone by his 2nd arb year because they wont be able to afford him.
    Their farm system is among the worst in baseball, especially on the offensive side

    So come 2012-2013, they will have a lineup of Pujols, Holliday, and 6 scrubs
    Doesnt seem like a solid gameplan

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • CircleChange11 says:

      If StL does NOT re-sign AP5, they probably do not go out and sign 8 WAR worth of production. If they do sign 8 WAR wirth of production, the cost is probably similar to what it would cost to sign AP5 per year. Just sign AP5.

      The problem in StL is literally that AP5 is too good. He allows the Cards, along with being in the NLC, to play 5 or 6 crappy guys and STILL make the playoffs. This leads to horrible roster construction in StL.

      Looking at 2010, StL had 38.3 WAR. 22.5 WAR from batting, 16.3 WAR from pitching, and -2.5 WAR from fielding.

      Pujols, Holliday, Wainwright, and Carpenter accounted for 24 of the ~39 WAR. That’s damn top heavy. Pujols is basically 20% of the teams’ WAR.

      StL should not be a franchise that is in the position of ‘Sign Albert and perish’.

      Right now, the “Fantastic Four” account for 52 of the 93M (56%) payroll and 24 of the 39 WAR (62%). Wainwright is currently a huge value at 6M/y in 2011. CC29, MH7, and AP7 all earn their money.

      I think the cards can sign AP5 for big money (and years) and still be able to give AW50 the contract he desires (currently a 5-WAR pitcher for 5M/y), and be able to give Rasmus his money when he comes up.

      Lohse’s money comes off the books in 2012. But, someone is going to have to go sooner or later, and it’s probably Carpenter.

      Rasmus, Freese, Garcia, should provide very good value. But, eventually they will need to be paid.

      I don’t think, given attendance numbers, StL could be viewed as a small-medium market.

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      • Joe R says:

        I don’t think, given franchise history, St. Louis can be viewed as a small market, it’s the 2nd best franchise in MLB history (well, one might say it’s the Giants or Dodgers in 2nd and have a case. I’m going w/ the Cards).

        But you hit the nail on the head. If Pujols is allowed to walk, the Cards will have to replace that production somehow, which probably means 2 near all stars to replace them (so who do you get? Prince Fielder and Grady Sizemore, pending his return to life?). That’s not cheap, and messy. Just pay Pujols, make him happy, make your fans happy. Done.

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  11. Jason B says:

    Can we stop throwing around the “$5M/win” that seems to have been widely accepted by fiat? Or at least discuss it some more? There’s the article at Baseball Analysts (I think?) that demonstrates how relievers totally skew that number and for everyone else that number averages out to, like, $3M per (I think) over the past several seasons.

    It’s one of the cornerstone assumptions underlying the assessment of any given contract as either “good”, horrid”, or somewhere in between, and I’m not yet ready to accept it as gospel.

    (May just be me and my rotary phone and my rabbit ears and my laser discs being slow to adapt again.)

    +20 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Levi says:

      I shall thumb this up if only for your last sentence.

      (But really for the whole thing).
      The FA market in general skews the $/WAR pretty massively. I’m not sure if this was the article you were thinking of, but it basically points out that evaluating pre-arb, arb-eligible, and FA contracts under the same $/WAR scale is pretty archaic.
      http://baseballanalysts.com/archives/2009/11/war_salary_and.php
      Most teams can get away with overpaying for free agents because it’s balanced out by their younger, cheaper players.

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  12. Mike Green says:

    Not too worry, even if Albert Pujols receives $300 million, it will be a proletarian $300 million earned through the sweat of his own brow rather than on the backs of other workers…

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    • asl says:

      This is a good point – its usually just the owners of the means of production that are massively overpaid by capitalism… Pujols he brings joy to millions with his talents… $300 million is alot of money but at least its not going to someone who figured out something as banal and joyless as improved efficiency.

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  13. fergie348 says:

    Slightly off topic, but this is a good one for catchers:

    http://www.fangraphs.com/graphsw.aspx?playerid2=1857&playerid3=4810&playerid4=1000898&playerid5=1000826

    I’ll proclaim my undying love for the WAR graphs page again, and say that Brian McCann is probably due a pretty big raise soon..

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  14. JayT says:

    Is there anything stopping a team like the Cubs coming out and saying today that they have a 10 year $300 million contract just waiting for Pujols in the hopes that it would drive up the price for the Cardinals?
    Is there a rule against comenting on other players before they are free agents?

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  15. Eric R says:

    Best I can tell there six inactive MLBers debut 1950 onward with +/- 20% of Pujols rWAR (sorry) through age 30. I’m sure you are so familiar with these six, that I could list them by first name only [Willie, Hank, Mickey, Rickey, Frank and Eddie] and you’ll probably get them all without looking :)

    Those six averaged 80.2 rWAR, so still a bit behind Pujols [83.8] and they averaged an extra 3.4 WAR before age 21 when Pujols debuted, so from 21 to 30, he is even alittle further ahead of the curve.

    In any case, figuring in zeros for years after their careers ended, here are the averages from age 31 onward:
    31 7.5
    32 6.1
    33 6.4
    34 5.6
    35 5.1
    36 3.1
    37 3.3
    38 2.1
    39 2.2
    40 1.7
    41 0.4
    42 0.2
    43 0.1

    So on a 10 year deal starting in 2012, we’re looking at 35.8 WAR; given that he was 8.4% ahead of themage 21-30, if you wanted to tack on 8.4% to the rest, that bumps it up to 38.8.

    The ‘deduct 0.5 WAR per year’ method came up with 47.5 WAR and the ‘deduct 10% per year’ method came up with 45.6 WAR. Using these six comps, those might be alittle optimistic… though maybe Mickey and Eddie overstate the ‘short career’ a bit. Using just the other four has you at 45.3 right in the neighborhood of the two proposed projections, granted now 11% behind Pujols 21-30

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    • JayT says:

      Barry Bonds had an rWAR of 85.3 through his age 30 season and Griffey Jr was also within 20% (and ahead of Frank Robinson).

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  16. Eric R says:

    BTW- I used 4.5 rWAR for Mays’ WAR shortened season and 7.5 for his missed year.

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  17. Jason says:

    Yes it’s called player tampering. Other teams can not talk to him or his agent before he hits free agency.

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  18. Garrett says:

    Why do we apply normal aging curves to exceptional players who also have dubious age issues?

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    • ToddM says:

      Pujols has no dubious age issues that I’ve heard of. He was born in the DR and played (juco?) ball in Missouri.

      He’s not from Venezuala or some other common source of sketchy birth records.

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      • ToddM says:

        On second thought, the DR has had some issues in the past (Furcal, for one). For some reason, though, I had always heard Pujols’ birth records were not in doubt…

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        He went to high school in the US. Played legion in the US. Played college in the US.

        I read something about where he stayed in school an extra year, or did not graduate when he could of, because he did not have a good grasp on the language (or something like that). But, it’s probably more reasonable to assume that his age is accurate, rather than not.

        His situation is not a case of him being signed as a pro out of the DR … where it has been common for guys in their early 20s to say they are in their teens.

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      • Garrett says:

        BP’s player cards have extensive comments about this. Regardless of the veracity, it is all negative skew.

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      • Joe R says:

        DR has had issues like that (Adrian Beltre comes to mind as a guy who got his age screwed around with, and since he didn’t speak english at the time, he had no idea they were playing a game w/ his age).

        But yes, Pujols came to the US legally, played HS and JuCo ball here, too. And since he hasn’t shown age yet, I think it’s safe to say that he’s really 31.

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  19. fredsbank says:

    people who think pujols will not play for the st louis cardinals his entire career are funny

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  20. rayray129 says:

    I like the fact if he stays in St’louis. That to me would says he is in it for the game and not for the money. If he signs else where then he lied just like all the other players. He is in it for the money and not for the sport.

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  21. deadpool says:

    Anybody saying the Phils would be out of it are shortsided. They’d eat half Howards deal and up-grade 1st if the bidding was deflated at all. Wouldn’t bring it up to Yanks and Sox bidding levels, but it makes life hard. Also, I think there are a lot of teams with strong farms who would put a deal in front of him and try to fill in with cost controlled options.

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    • Fred says:

      The only way that would make sense if the Phillies were in the AL and Ryan Howard was a legendarily great hitter. No on both counts.

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    • fredsbank says:

      but why the hell would albert want to leave st louis? a team could offer their entire farm system in trade and a billion dollars in contract, but if he doesnt want to leave, it doesnt matter; the fact remains he’s beloved in st louis, and is one of the few true franchise players in recent memory for any team, let alone the cardinals who havent had one since stan the man. its no coincidence they call albert ‘el hombre’

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    • pdrober1963 says:

      If the Phils were to sign Albert, Howard would make a packing to move home!

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  22. Hans says:

    Earlier someone asked why would Pujols leave the Cards, a perennial contender, for another team that might be able to afford a larger contract for him, but might not be a regular post season team. Examples given were the Cubs, Nats, and Angels.

    If Pujols signs with any of those teams, they are instantly perennial contenders. If Pujols leaves the Cards, they’re not. In other words, the Cards contend because of Pujols. He carries the playoffs with him wherever he goes. The only exceptions to this would be a team like the Pirates.

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      Exactly. Take his 8 WAR off of the Cardinals and place it directly on the Cubs, and see what that does to projected NLC standings. 8 Wins moves you from 1st to 4th, or vice versa.

      If he goes to LAA, same thing.

      He does not make the Nationals a contender.

      ATL is a team that I do not hear mentioned very often. Given the moves PHL has made, AP5 on the Braves makes them alegit NLE contender, and a very strong WC contender.

      AP5 in COL is also a scary thought, but I wonder just how much money they have left.

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      • fredsbank says:

        matt holliday in particular would find that last point most amusing

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        I’m not referring to any Coors Effect … but referring to Pujols, CarGo, & Tulo, etc in the same lineup. Adding Pujols to that team would be potent.

        Todd Helton certainly doesn’t find it amusing. *grin*

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      • Nate says:

        If he went to COL that would mean exactly one thing: He wants 763 (or ARod+1) more than anything else.

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      • fredsbank says:

        well i was referring more to the fact of holliday’s contract offer from the rockies less than LOLCOORZ, but yes, the thought of albert going from busch and its not-so-friendly habits for RHBs to coors and its RHB bonuses would be ludicrous

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      • Christian says:

        The Braves aren’t a legitimate NLE contender? What?

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        The Braves aren’t a legitimate NLE contender? What?

        I don’t really want to get into it, but compare them to PHL. At this point, lost s of teams are contenders. Put AP5 on ATL’s team and they’re darn near equals to PHL.

        Right now, ATL trails PHL by a decent amount.

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  23. Yo momma so Uggla says:

    The Cardinals are already shelling out 18 mill/per for AP. Pay him 25/per and they only raise the payroll 7 mill…..doesn’t sound like a bank-breaker to me.
    The Cards F.O has to figure the wonky elbow, creaky back and plantar fasciitis into the equation. Not to mention the nagging pulled calf muscle that has shown up the last few summers.
    Pujols will not age well. The guy is being held together with medical tape and and pure determination to be the best.
    I am a die-hard Cards fan, a season ticket holder and lover of baseball. It pains me to say this, but the best move the Cards can make is to trade him now while pillaging and plundering some ones farm system……..unless they can sign him for 23 mill for 8 years. Anything more and the organization will be hamstrung with a Helton-esque contract, paying a player prime dollars for performance that is far past his prime.

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  24. 05Astros says:

    What about, say 4 yrs at 35 per. That way, hes getting arod kind od dollars, Cards arent hamstringed for several years, I know I sound crazy

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  25. TIM BINGHEIM says:

    I THOUGHT IT NOT ABOUT THE MONEY ALBERT? YOU LOVE TO PLAY BASEBALL AND WIN,YOU SAY YOU WOULD LIKE TO FINISH YOUR CAREER IN ST. LOUIS? SO HOW MUCH MONEY DO YOU NEED ANYWAY??OR HOW MUCH MONEY DOES YOUR AGENT WANTING AND IS IT HIS DECISION ON WHO MUCH YOU ACTUAL N E E D????? US FANS WANT YOU TO STAY IN ST LOUIS AND AS YOU SEE WITH YOUR OWN EYES YOUR FAN SUPPORT HERE IS SECOND TO N O N E!!!! THANKS TIM B.

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  26. shthar says:

    The cardinals are in lose lose here.

    If they sign him, they got almost 50 million a year in two aging players.

    If they don’t, the fans will never let them live it down.

    Here’s what you do. Trade him, now or at the break, for a plethora of players, then sign him as an FA. Win-Win baby!

    Never seen it done yet tho.

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  27. Bayarmaa says:

    Pujols is definitely a huge juicer. Could the juicing lead to a breakdown or is it more likely that the juice enables him to put forth a Barry Bonds type-showing in his late 30s or early 40s?

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    • dorasaga says:

      You sound like one of those scouts who asked opponents who played against Pujols back in his high school and college days: Albert is an adult playing kids. He’s one of those lying Dominicans who misreported his age. Those stats aren’t his real talent. Just disregard him.

      When had baseball fans came to such cynicism?

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        The coaches I have talked to that coached against him have basically said these two things:

        [1] How the heck can someone that hits like him get drafted in the 13th rd (or 14th, whatever it was)?

        [2] Why is the fat kid playing SS?

        I played in a tournament with Cliff Floyd during American Legion ball. He lloked to be about 6’4 220 with a beard. If you had asked me how old I thought he was, I would have said “29″.

        LeBron James certainly didn’t “look his age” in amatuer ball either.

        I don;t know what that has to do with anything, other than we simply HAVE TO find a reason for why AP5 simply cannot be this good, this consistently.

        From a batting mechanics standpoint, his swing is essentially “flat” as it comes through the zone. Most hitter’s paths follow a “c-patch”. As a result, he simply makes more contact, makes better contact more often, and can drive the ball to all fields. Using swing velicty, AP5 simply should not be a power hitter. Where most prolific hitters have bat speeds around 100+, Pujols comes in with a pedestrian 86mph … or type B hitter.

        IMO, he’s in the realm of “perfect storm” in terms of mechanics, discipline, and talent. If he had prolific bat speed, what we would witness, might just unbelieve by the very definition of the word. In that regard, he’s kind of the Greg Maddux of hitters. Just as how we could only imagine what Maddux would have been like with Pedro’s or Rocket’s heat, we can only imagine what AP5 would be like if he had Prince Fielder’s bat speed.

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    • fredsbank says:

      because steroids totally give you outstanding hand-eye coordination and pitch recognition/plate discipline, right?

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        Not just that, but Pujols would essentially have to be continually juicing, since his performances are very consistent, and the “aging curve” is so far, absent.

        He hasn’t missed large parts of seasons, only to be followed by 3-4 non-injury seasons. He hasn’t had huge spikes in performance, or even seen production go up in his early 30s.

        He’s basically been the same hitter in MLB that he was in MiLB, and he was the same hitter on day 1 that he is now.

        Comparatively, his WAR graph is dang near a “straight line”, when looking at WAR/season.

        IMO, he manages his effort really well. He plays a non-demanding defensive position. Some will make comments about AP5 not running out routine ground balls, or even running balls out to avoid a DP. There’s no telling how this saves his legs throughout a season or career. But, he seems to pick his spots for exerted effort (stealing bases, etc), doesn’t slide headfirst, doesn’t go over aggressive on breaking up DPs, colliding with catchers, getting in rundowns, etc. Seems to me he “coasts” when the situation sort of calls for it. He gets a triple every now and then, almost by accident.

        His BB-rate would be essentially “constant” if it weren’t for the annually increasing # of IBBs.

        I think, over the last 2 seasons there may some indication (I said “may”) of some possible decline, or at least an approach change, in that his line drive % is slightly down, while FB% is slightly up. It could be that he is not catching up to some pitches as he once did (lower BABIP as a result), or that he is intentionally trying to get the ball airborne (IMO, not likely) … or pitchers have some type of scouting report (throwing him high fastballs has seemingly gotten more attention as of late).

        His physique hasn’t changed, other than losing some flab coming out of JuCo, but really AP5 has seemingly managed his effort/risk really well, and used judgement in times of when it’s worth it to push and when it’s not. Being in the lineup is the single most important part of his game, and he’s done that really well over the last 2 years (and well, for almost all of his career).

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • pdrober1963 says:

      Do you realize by saying things you know nothing about, you open yourself up to litigation from the Pujols and Cardinals camps. Yes….you can be held accountable for your opinions when there is no evidence of your claims.

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  28. Schniks says:

    Pujols will soon be exposed as a juicer and a fraud.

    -8 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • fredsbank says:

      what are you, the guy who posted and you think you’re being clever? there is quite literally no evidence to suggest that albert pujols does steroids or anything else illegal

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  29. Mark says:

    Albert Pujols has the numbers to prove that he deserves the richest contract in baseball. Although many players who have been linked to steroids have suffered noted declines in their production, there is nothing to suggest that Pujols was on them. His production is very consistent, and there has been no links to steroids. As far as free agency goes, he has every right to test the market. It would be sad for St. Louis fans to start slinging mud at him for being curious about potential offers. Considering what LeBron James has gone through from angry fans for leaving Cleveland, Albert won’t have an easy time leaving St. Louis. While I think that he really does want to remain a Cardinal, I won’t hold it against him for doing some window shopping. He has more than earned that right.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • CircleChange11 says:

      Considering what AP5 has done in StL, the MVPs, the 2 WS (1 win), being an absolutely wonderful human being and member of the city, team leader, etc … if he signs with another team, there will be no animosity towards him.

      The fans will want the GM’s decapitated head to be displayed outside of the stadium, but no hard feelings for albert.

      Now, if he strings the team along, playing some sort of game, and then announces in an egotistical fashion that he’s taking his talents to LA … then we’d have issue with that.

      No one can fault a person for looking to maximize their value. It doesn’t matter if that person is a baseball player, a co-worker, a doctor, etc.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  30. Paul says:

    Did we ever have a contract crowdsourcing for AP5?

    I guess what would be ‘reasonable’ would be a sliding scale of years versus $per year:-

    6@31 (186)
    7@28 (196)
    8@26 (208)

    could quibble over the dollars sligtly, but its ballpark i think

    would be really cool if he ends up staying as a 1-club man for his career; i think if he is really after ARod money (~250-300mil), then he’ll end up disappointed

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • CircleChange11 says:

      F^&*%#$ A-Rod … doesn’t he always just ruin everything for everyone? *grin*

      It really seems to piss other players off that *he* gets that contract, and now teams are not really going that high again … meanwhile *he* has a ridiculous contract through age 42.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  31. Nightrider says:

    The Cards have no choice but to sign the guy, bring out the checkbook for 7/200.
    Or else suffer at the turnstiles by the scorn heaped upon it by their fans. Pujols if smart will sign with the Cards because he knows he is loved in SL and feels comfortable there. Anywhere else would be too much pressure on him to perform and he knows he might choke, especially in a big market like NY.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  32. pdrober1963 says:

    First of all….if Pujols hits the market, you can count Mozalak’s days with the Cardinals finished. If the Cardinals lose Albert, you will see a mass exodus from Cardinals baseball like you have never seen before. The DeWitt’s will see fan totals of 3 million plus drop below 2 million the first season. They will never recover.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • CircleChange11 says:

      I’m not sure that’s totally true. StL fans are fans of the team, first … individual players second.

      When Ozzie was screwed in ST, losing the job to Clayton … they fans remained.

      I would expect major flack from the fans, and the GM to lose his job. But, StL still has a decent team in a weakish division. They would be competitive and the fans would still attend games, maybe not as high as usual, but still at a very good rate.

      It would suck losing AP5, and I think if he goes to another NLC team, it is literally a “10 WIN Swing” (Cards loss + Team’s gain).

      As each day passes, my confidence that he will be signed decreases. In this specific scenario, the team does actually need the player more than the player needs the team.

      I love AP5, just like everyone else does. My main concern is that if they lose him, they won’t replace his value. Berkman will play 1B and Jay will play RF … or if we sign players we’ll end up paying more total $ for fewer total WAR than if we had just signed AP5 … so it will be a dumb move all the way around. However, I have come to expect that type of thing from JM. I truly feel that the Cards have a poor FO.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  33. AP20-Retired says:

    Does no one recall that he gives half his salary to charity??? It’s not about money he is a good honest person with best interests in mind….CHARITY and as far as A-rod money…..stupidity he gives back to this world and playing the way he has played CONSISTANTLY for 10 years making nowhere near what he was worth proves without a doubt his dedication to the game and lack of concern for the dollar bill… picture perfect player to the game. Thank you Albert for showing up right on time. He will be in St. Louis til’ he retires

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  34. Rich says:

    New to Fangraphs message comments. Somehow I lost my earlier response. Reposting this and hoping it makes it to you. It was regarding Jon’s comments about Pujols’ endorsement power:

    Commenting strictly on your mention of endorsements and popularity, I can tell you that Pujols would end up on every cereal box, anti-perspirant commerial, boxer/brief package etc., whether he liked it or not.

    Chicago is a town that lives for guys like Pujols. You know, the larger-than-life, demi-god athlete like Jordan, Payton, Sosa, who can be thrust into the spotlight and loved by the championship-hungry fans. It doesn’t matter if the athlete has the outgoing persona like Sosa, or the more reserved nature, like Jordan and Payton. Chicago fans don’t care.

    They fall in love with those guys and put them up on the pedestal whether he wants it or not.

    Forget the cute “homegrown superstar/World Champion” connection. That’s kid’s play compared to the “All-out Baseball Savior of the World” should he lead the Cubs deep into the playoffs.

    I don’t know which would be more satifying for Cub fans if he were to lead them to a WS title:

    Actually breaking the incomprehensible 102+ year drought…

    ….Or looking back over their shoulders at the Cardinals organization as they hoist him up onto those same shoulders.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  35. Joe S says:

    My apologies in advance….I may be asking questions that are elementary/well known to the sabermetric crowd.

    Basically, is there a “point of diminishing returns on salary as it relates to WAR or some other statistical measure”?

    I got to thinking about this as I was reading about Pujols’ rumored contract demands and how wise it is to be so heavily invested in one person.

    Let me give an extreme example. Let’s say Pujols has an annual 27 WAR (offensive only) and each WAR is calculated out at worth $5 million, therefore, he is theoretically worth $135 million per year. At that money, Team A can only field MLB minimum salary, 0 WAR players to round out their 9 player lineup.

    Team B decides to sign 9 separate players each with a WAR of 3. They are each signed for $15 million, thus equally (approximately) the same payroll put out by Team A as well as the overall WAR of 27.

    Obviously, the opponents of Team A can pitch around Pujols or otherwise try to limit his effectiveness. Meanwhile, Team B has offensive threats spread throughout the lineup.

    Is there a point at which it is no longer fruitful to invest in a one superior product, but more wise to invest in multiple, less superior products. If so, has anyone attempted to make such a calculation? If a 3 WAR is worth $15 million per year, is a 6 WAR worth only $24M, a 9 WAR worth $32M?

    Thoughts?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  36. Joey B says:

    If we assumed a decrease of .5 WAR per year, and 5% inflation starting with $5M, then ten years from now, Pujols will be worth ~ $19M in year 10.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  37. anthony says:

    People are talking about whether or not they should sign AP and for how much. Anyone else think that if the Cards still had Walt Jockety as GM that they’d have figured this out by now? Mozeliak seems to do just a generally crappy job. Combined with LaRussa’s inability to connect with anyone who isn’t a businesslike old vet. The fact that the Cards really don’t have that many players in their prime and are insanely top heavy with one or two of those top four (Pujols, Carp, Waino, Holliday) either leaving or declining. Carp being old and AP5′s contract. Plus they might lose Rasmus due to LaRussa, even if they don’t lose him on the roster, they might lose him mentally. Shelby Miller is the only really “wow” prospect they have and he’s a SP so there’s like a 67% chance he doesn’t live up to expectations. I mean just think of all of that. Does it even matter whether they resign him or not and for how much? It looks like a sinking ship.

    Situation 1, they sign him, even at 20M a year, which would be a discount, that’s still a LOT of money. Sure, STL is between a mid and large market team (can’t just look at the city, there are no ML teams between them and CHI, and nowhere south until Atlanta, so there are Cards fans in TN and KY and pretty much everywhere down there till you get to ATL), but does that mean they can afford 20M for albert, Holliday’s contract, Wainos new contract, and without a strong farm system find vets on the free agent market to fill?

    Situation 2, they fail to sign him, now they only have 3 core players, one is old Carp, now they have a mediocre team and no farm system and will have to overpay for someone worse than Pujols.

    Seems to me that the contract they should have been offering is not for AP5, but for Walt Jockety a few years ago. Where is old Walt right now anyways?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  38. anthony says:

    In my opinion, the best chance the Cards have at winning over the next few years is to trade Pujols to KC for Hosmer, Moustakas, Myers, Montgomery, Duffy, Lamb, Crow, and Melville. Or get a new GM and manager.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

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