Albert Pujols is heading to Anaheim. After flirtations with the hyper-aggressive Marlins and extended talks with his hometown Cardinals, Pujols accepted a ten-year deal worth more than $250MM from the Angels. Here's a blow-by-blow look ahead to the impact the contract will have, starting in Anaheim:
Angels: The Angels' offense was ordinary in 2011, and Pujols should help change that. The Angels' projected lineup becomes even more right-handed with the addition of Pujols, but GM Jerry Dipoto figures to make more moves before Spring Training.
Rookie of the Year runner-up Mark Trumbo and the injured Kendrys Morales are now in limbo. There has been some talk of moving Trumbo to third, but the Angels may trade him instead. Morales, a borderline non-tender candidate with a projected salary in the $3MM range, might draw interest from teams such as the Rays, Pirates, Cubs, Brewers and Blue Jays if and when he and Trumbo become available.
Dipoto has had an immense impact in his six weeks on the job in Anaheim (the Angels also agreed to terms with C.J. Wilson). It's clear that owner Arte Moreno hired an aggressive GM who believes the Angels can win soon. The Angels will lose the 19th overall selection in the 2012 draft to the Cardinals.
Cardinals - You can't replace the best hitter in baseball. The Cardinals outscored every National League team in 2011 and they'll keep scoring in 2012, but replacing Pujols in the short-term represents a challenge for the defending World Series winners.
The Cardinals have lost two franchise icons — Pujols and manager Tony La Russa — since winning it all this October. They’ll have a new look in 2012 under rookie manager Mike Matheny. St. Louis also obtains two compensatory draft picks for Pujols in 2012.
The St. Louis lineup will look considerably different next year. Lance Berkman projects as the everyday first baseman with Allen Craig in right field. However, Craig underwent knee surgery and may not be ready for Opening Day, so the Cardinals may look to obtain outfield (or first base) depth. GM John Mozeliak should have the money he needs to address weaknesses in the middle infield, the bullpen and, possibly, the rotation. Losing Pujols also provides the Cardinals with future payroll flexibility. Though the loss stings now, they'll have more financial freedom over the course of the next decade.
Marlins - President of baseball operations Larry Beinfest improved his lineup — one that finished the 2011 season 23rd in baseball in runs scored — even though Pujols signed elsewhere. Few pitchers will want to face a group that includes Jose Reyes, a healthy Hanley Ramirez, Mike Stanton and Logan Morrison.
The lineup will also include Gaby Sanchez, assuming the Marlins don't sign Prince Fielder. Sanchez, a Miami native who has never played a position other than first base at the Major League level, would have interested other teams if Pujols had signed in Miami.
Brewers, Mariners, Cubs, Rangers, Mystery Teams - Any team interested in Prince Fielder watched the Pujols negotiations with interest. Though Pujols’ numbers are superior to Fielder's from a career standpoint, agent Scott Boras may attempt to use Pujols’ deal to his client’s advantage.
Joey Votto – Votto doesn’t have the same resume as Pujols, but he may use Thursday’s agreement as a point of reference when he hits free agency after the 2013 season. Fielder’s deal will be a better be a better comparison for Votto.
Mets – The Mets would have obtained a third round compensation pick for losing Reyes if Pujols had signed with the Marlins. Instead, the Mets are looking at a second round selection for losing the All-Star shortstop.
The MLBPA – It’s the second biggest deal in baseball history, so there’s lots to like from the players association's perspective. The contract tops the average annual value of deals for lesser players such as Ryan Howard, Adrian Gonzalez and Mark Teixeira. Agent Dan Lozano obtained a deal that makes Pujols the second MLB player to surpass the $200MM contract plateau (Alex Rodriguez is the other).