Albert Pujols Rumors

NL Central Notes: Reyes, Astros, Molina, Pujols

The Cardinals not only won the World Series, but they've also been named Baseball America's 2011 Organization Of The Year.  This is the first time the St. Louis organization has taken top honors since Baseball America instituted the award in 1982. 

Here's some other news from around the NL Central….

  • The Pirates are talking to southpaw Jo-Jo Reyes about a minor league contract, reports Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (Twitter link).  Reyes posted a 5.57 ERA in 29 games with the Blue Jays and Orioles in 2011 and was non-tendered by the O's earlier this week.
  • The Astros will give several of their young arms a shot at the closer's job in Spring Training, reports MLB.com's Brian McTaggart.  Houston also has Brandon Lyon returning to provide some veteran closing experience.  Stay tuned to Closer News for the latest on the Astros' late-game situation.
  • Yadier Molina's contract is up after 2012 and Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch wonders if Molina's friendship with Albert Pujols could make the catcher less inclined to re-sign with the Cardinals.  Molina would be one of the most-sought after members of the 2013 free agent class if he and the Cards don't agree on a new deal.  Miklasz suggests the Angels could target Molina this winter if he hits free agency, but I'd think such a move would only happen if Chris Iannetta is a big disappointment behind the plate in Anaheim.
  • Tony La Russa tells Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that Pujols was "conflicted' about leaving the Cardinals to sign with the Angels.  "I know it was a painful decision and it pains him now," La Russa said. "He deserves what he got. He earned it. There's no bad guy here."  La Russa also felt the situation was "unavoidable" and that Pujols "was disappointed there wasn't more enthusiasm from the Cardinals" when the Angels and Marlins made big pushes to sign the superstar at the Winter Meetings.

Quick Hits: Varitek, A’s, Braves, Cordero, Lee, Pujols

Some links as Tuesday turns into Wednesday…


Pujols’ Wife On Cardinals’ Offer

"The city of St. Louis has absolutely been deceived," said Albert Pujols' wife Deidre today on the Greg & Sandi show this morning on 99.1 Joy FM in St. Louis (thanks to Drew Silva for the link).  Deidre's thoughts on her husband's offseason…

  • Deidre was confused that the Cardinals said they wanted Albert to be a Cardinal for life but only offered a five-year deal.  She feels she and Albert have been given an unfair trial by the public, based on "deceiving numbers" in the media.  She explained, "The offer that people have seen on television…had that offer been the one that was given to us with guarantee, we would have a bird on our back.  It wasn't a guaranteed situation."  Deidre also confirmed they turned down a larger offer in taking $254MM from the Angels.  Marlins president David Samson told reporters they were at ten years and "a hair over $200MM," so it's unclear which team offered more than $254MM, if any.      
  • The Cardinals' ten-year, $210MM offer to Pujols included $30MM deferred without interest, tweets Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.  Deidre may have been referring to the Cardinals' initial bid of five years and $130MM.
  • Cardinals GM John Mozeliak commented on the negotiations to KFNS St. Louis.  He also agreed that it's safe to assume his team will not be in on Prince Fielder.


Quick Hits: Pujols, Wilson, Beltran, Bergesen, Lane

Fifteen years ago today, the Astros and Tigers swung a nine-player trade. Houston received Brad Ausmus, Jose Lima, Trever Miller, C.J. Nitkowski, and Daryle Ward while Detroit imported Doug Brocail, Brian Hunter, Todd Jones, and Orlando Miller. It's not often you see a club turnover 20% of its roster in a single deal. Here are some evening links…

  • Albert Pujols' new ten-year contract with the Angels will keep him with the team for another ten years after it expires. MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez reports (on Twitter) that the deal will keep him on board as a consultant to owner Arte Moreno for a decade after his playing days are over.
  • In a second tweet, Gonzalez heard from C.J. Wilson that not only did the Marlins offer him a sixth guaranteed year, but they also offered him an option for a seventh year as well.
  • Even after signing Rafael Furcal to a two-year, $14MM contract, Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio reports (on Twitter) that the Cardinals remain in contact with free agent outfielder Carlos Beltran. Beltran could step in at right field and help replace some of the offense lost when Pujols left.
  • "I haven't talked to anyone," said non-tender candidate and Orioles right-hander Brad Bergesen to Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com, indicating that he doesn't know what will happen before Monday's deadline to tender contracts to players with less than six years of service time. "I have no idea. I don't know what the plan is. I don't know how they view me or if I fit in their plans. All I can do is prepare myself and be ready for whatever comes my way."
  • Baseball America's Matt Eddy reports that the Diamondbacks have signed former Astros outfielder Jason Lane as a left-handed pitcher. The 34-year-old hasn't appeared in the big leagues since 2007, but he made the move to the mound this past season. Todd Dewey of the Las Vegas Journal-Review chronicled the conversion back in August.

Quick Hits: Pujols, Lee, Davis, Buehrle

On this day in 2008, the Rays traded Edwin Jackson to the Tigers for Matthew Joyce.  In his first full season for Tampa Bay in 2011, Joyce hit .277/.347/.478 with 19 homers and received his first All-Star nomination.    Here are some links for Saturday afternoon..

  • The personal services clause in Albert Pujols' contract ties him to the Angels for ten years beyond his playing contract, tweets Scott Miller of CBSSports.com.  In total, Pujols and the Angels are set to be in business together for 20 years.
  • The Angels were the only team to call the Cardinals about a possible trade for Pujols in recent years, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter links).  The talks never advanced, however, as the Cards wouldn't consider trading him (via Twitter).
  • There's no evidence of any interest in Carlos Lee yet, tweets Jon Heyman of MLB Network.  Heyman suggests that the 35-year-old might need Prince Fielder to come off the board first before the Astros can trade him.  Last year, Lee hit .275/.342/.446 with 18 homers for the Astros.  The Indians have reportedly considered the veteran but are wary of his price tag.
  • The Athletics’ haul for right-hander Trevor Cahill should be a pretty good indication of what the Rays might expect for righty Wade Davis, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com.  Clubs might not view Davis as highly, but his contract might make him even more appealing to teams such as the Reds and Marlins.
  • According to a person with knowledge of the situation, the Nationals’ final offer to Mark Buehrle was $39MM over three years, writes Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post.  Ultimately, the right-hander signed with the Marlins for $58MM over four years.  Ultimately, the Nats' offer was $19MM less in overall guaranteed money and $1.5MM less in average annual value.

How The Albert Pujols Deal Shapes The Offseason

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.

Mark Buehrle - The Marlins agreed to sign Buehrle, but it's unlikely they would have moved as aggressively on the southpaw if Pujols had decided to accept the Marlins' offer.

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).


Marlins Notes: Hanley, Morrison, Pujols, Fielder

The Marlins held an introductory press conference for Mark Buehrle today, and here are a few hot stove details from those proceedings and beyond…

  • The Marlins have "poked around in the market" to see what interest there would be in Hanley Ramirez, tweets ESPN's Buster Olney.  The team claimed Ramirez wouldn't be dealt in the wake of Jose Reyes' signing but even coming off a down year, Ramirez would be a big trade chip.
  • Logan Morrison is "drawing more trade interest" than any other Miami player, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter).  Still, it is "highly, highly unlikely" Morrison is sent elsewhere. 
  • Team president David Samson denied reports that the Marlins offered Albert Pujols a near-record contract, saying the club's offer was worth a bit more than $200MM, tweets Juan C. Rodriguez of the South Florida Sun Sentinel.  USA Today's Bob Nightengale reported yesterday that Miami offered Pujols a ten-year, $275MM deal that could have ultimately been worth $300MM with incentives and because Florida has no state income tax.
  • When asked if the club would pursue Prince Fielder, owner Jeffrey Loria replied "Oh, I don't know about that. We'll see," reports Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post.  In another tweet, Capozzi hears from a source that the Marlins never had interest in Fielder.
  • Juan C. Rodriguez reports the Marlins also aren't interested in free agent starter Edwin Jackson (Twitter link).
  • The Marlins are planning to have internal discussions about an extension for Mike Stanton, Capozzi reports (via Twitter).  There is no time frame, however, as the club is waiting until "after [the] dust settles" on their busy offseason.  Stanton is already under team control through 2016 and doesn't reach arbitration for two more years. 
  • MLB.com's Anthony DiComo details the incentive clauses and the year-by-year breakdown of Jose Reyes' six-year deal.  Reyes will earn $10MM in each of the next two seasons, $16MM in 2014, and then $22MM in each of the final three guaranteed seasons.  The Marlins have a $22MM team option on Reyes for 2018 that can be bought out for $4MM.

Fallout From The Albert Pujols Signing

Needless to say, people will be talking about the Angels' blockbuster contract with Albert Pujols for years, if not decades, to come.  We published one batch of reactions to the signing yesterday, and now here are some fresh perspectives about the impact of the already-legendary deal…

  • The Angels have agreed to a 20-year TV contract with Fox Sports worth at least $3 billion, reports Bill Shaikin and Kevin Baxter of the L.A. Times.  With the Dodgers' deal with Fox struck down in court and the Lakers moving to Time Warner Cable, the Angels had a clear line to this huge new deal and revenue stream.  As Shaikin and Baxter put it to Halos fans, Pujols was "brought to you by Frank McCourt and Kobe Bryant."
  • Dave Cameron of Fangraphs looks at how major signings rarely lead to long-term boosts in attendance.
  • There is no truth to rumors the Angels and A's were discussing a trade involving Mark Trumbo and Andrew Bailey, reports Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle.  Slusser's source calls the rumor "total fiction."
  • During labor talks, Arte Moreno was critical of other owners signing players to expensive, long-term contracts, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post.
  • Adrian Gonzalez's seven-year, $154MM contract with the Red Sox "looks rather incredible now," writes WEEI.com's Alex Speier.  "There is a good chance that Gonzalez will be a better player than Pujols for the next seven years. But even if he is not…the difference will not be as wide as a nine-figure contract chasm would suggest."

Nightengale On Albert Pujols Negotiations

Bob Nightengale has a fantastic story up at USA Today that provides a timeline of the negotiations involving Albert Pujols and a handful of clubs at the Winter Meetings. The must-read piece includes word that Pujols' contract could be worth as much as $280MM with incentives. Here are the other highlights:

  • When Dodgers manager Don Mattingly spoke to Pujols last weekend, he sensed Pujols wasn't entirely happy with the Cardinals: "You could just sense something was wrong. He was getting frustrated by it."
  • The Marlins were "relentless," increasing their offer to Pujols multiple times until it reached $275MM. They expected to leave Dallas having signed Pujols, but never offered the no-trade clause he wanted.
  • A mystery team (not the Angels) stepped in on Monday and offered Pujols ten years and $225MM. This mystery club "refuses to be publicly identified," writes Nightengale.
  • On Tuesday, the Cardinals offered a nine-year, $210MM deal with a tenth-year vesting option. At around this time, the Marlins were eliminated from the mix (whether by Pujols or the team), narrowing the decision to the Cards and the mystery team.
  • Late Tuesday, Angels GM Jerry Dipoto called agent Dan Lozano to talk Pujols. Early Wednesday morning, the Halos offered a ten-year deal worth about $250MM.
  • As of Wednesday night, Lozano expected Pujols to mull the decision for a few days, but the slugger called him early this morning to accept the Angels' offer.

Albert Pujols Signing Reactions

Albert Pujols and the Angels agreed to a $254MM deal today that will keep the longtime Cardinal under contract until he's 41. As you can imagine, the signing has inspired some reactions across the league. Here are a few takes and additional details on the second-largest contract in baseball history:

Tim Dierkes' take: In hindsight, it was odd to be talking about offers in the $200MM range on the open market for Pujols, who still may be the best hitter in baseball.  It seems that ultimately the Cardinals were way behind in their offer, as both the Marlins and Angels offered over $40MM more.  Before the 2011 season, a contract for Pujols topping Alex Rodriguez's $275MM seemed possible in free agency, but a rough start to the season and the lowest walk rate of Pujols' career might have given a few teams pause.  Plus, the Yankees and Red Sox weren't involved.  

Almost all long-term contracts end badly.  Angels owner Arte Moreno knows that, and he's going for broke for the next three to four years.  I generally appreciate an owner who is willing to do that.  We see teams overpay for dozens of free agents every winter; Angels fans should be glad their owner did it for the best free agent in years.

I can't speak for Cardinals fans, but I don't see cause to be angry toward Pujols or the team.  The Cardinals made the best offer they could reasonably afford, and it was nowhere near the others.  They still have a strong team and the glow of two recent World Series wins.  As for Albert, if I was him I wouldn't have agreed to a contract that made me the fourth-best-paid first baseman in the game.

Additonal Pujols reactions:

  • The signing makes the Angels much better in the short term, but it's "almost unthinkable that this contract will look like a good one in 2021 when we look back on it after its conclusion," writes ESPN.com's Keith Law (Insider required).
  • Dave Cameron of Fangraphs agrees with Law, saying the Angels will need a lot of breaks in order for the deal to work out long-term.
  • The Angels were the "unlikely beneficiary of the Cardinals' inactivity," says Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.
  • Cardinals fans have the right to feel bitter, but comparing Pujols to LeBron James is misguided, since Pujols and the Cards won two championships, writes Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.
  • "I would like our fans to know that we tried our best to make Albert a lifetime Cardinal but unfortunately we were unable to make it happen," Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt Jr. said as part of a statement, thanking Albert for his achievements and community contributions.
  • Two other FOX Sports scribes provided their takes on the deal as well.
  • At today's press conference, Angels GM Jerry Dipoto praised the athleticism of Mark Trumbo, now the Angels' former first baseman. Dipoto mentioned third base, designated hitter, and the outfield as possibilities for Trumbo, tweets Danny Knobler of CBS Sports.
  • Appearing on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM, Dipoto said the Angels didn't get heavily involved with Pujols until the last 24 hours before they reached an agreement.
  • Jayson Stark of ESPN.com spoke to a few National League GMs who are happy to see Pujols switching leagues. "I'll miss seeing him," said Reds GM Walt Jocketty. "But I won't miss facing him."
  • Typically big spenders, the Yankees and Red Sox weren't in on the Pujols bidding. Yanks GM Brian Cashman "gave it a nice, respectful no" when Pujols' camp approached him, according to MLB.com's Bryan Hoch. Sox GM Ben Cherington said it would have taken "huge, fundamental changes" to the team's roster and payroll to sign Pujols, tweets Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal.
  • As we discussed earlier, the Angels' offer wasn't the largest one Pujols received — the Marlins' ten-year proposal topped it.