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Baseball executives think Pujols will make $30 million a year. I think he could get more

Feb 26, 2010, 2:55 PM EDT

I did a Pujols post and an Heyman post, so now here’s Heyman on Pujols:

Baseball executives agree on a couple things regarding superstar Albert Pujols, the Cardinals and their future together.

Pujols and the Cardinals have a very good chance to stay together
beyond 2011, when his first nine-figure contract expires, and…

2. Pujols will get his $30 million a year, give or take a few pennies.

I used to ignore these sorts of “I polled a bunch of nameless baseball executives” stories, but now that I’m paid to read and write about baseball I’ve been paying pretty close attention to them this winter. One of the things I’ve noticed is that the nameless executives tend to undershoot what seem like reasonable salaries. This has mostly come in the arbitration context, but it has applied to free agents too.

While $30 million is a redonkulous amount of money, I can’t help but wonder if that’s still (gulp) low in the case of Pujols.  Alex Rodriguez made $32 million last year and will do so again this year. He’ll make $31 million next year.  After that the base dollars go down a touch, but then the incentives start kicking in, which could have him making more than $300 million over the life of his ten year deal.

Maybe Pujols won’t push as hard as Boras/A-Rod did, and maybe the Cardinals won’t cave the way the Yankees did, but I think a case could be made for Pujols getting more than $30 million a year.

  1. Nick C. - Feb 26, 2010 at 3:12 PM

    Craig – You can certainly make a very good case that Pujols deserves as much or more than Arod. However, it is important to note that the Yankees pay a premium for every player because they can and the agents know this. Furthermore, I know this may sound silly but you cannot compare the dollar amounts between NY and STL without also factoring in the difference in tax dollars and cost of living. Those little decimal places add up to real big dollars when you are talking about 30 million/300 million.

  2. Old Gator - Feb 26, 2010 at 3:15 PM

    The annual cost of the Royal Family to the British taxpayer is about 67 million pounds sterling, or about Sterling 1.12 per person, which Buckingham Palace considers excellent value for money.
    So, if these parasites can pull down that kind of money for doing nothing, why shouldn’t Albert Pujols, who works for a living, make about half as much? I grant you he’s not as attractive as a tabloid icon as, say, Randy Andy or Princess Di before she became one bullet less the revolution would have had to waste in the courtyard, but hey, more people listen to postgame interviews with him and stay awake for them than listen to the Queen’s Christmas message and stay awake for that.

  3. Ross - Feb 26, 2010 at 3:55 PM

    In the case of Albert Pujols, there should probably be a reverse-Dawson in play here. The club that wants him most just hands him a blank contract for him to fill in however he wants.

  4. Charles Gates - Feb 26, 2010 at 3:58 PM

    I consulted my reliable sources to find that Tom Cruise pulls about $60MM per movie (
    Tag: Scientology, Gator Bait

  5. sjp - Feb 26, 2010 at 4:01 PM

    I will be tremendously disappointed in Pujols if he makes the Cardinals pay him $30M/year to stay, because that will mean that all of his talk about winning was a smoke screen. There are very few teams that can pay a single player (even Pujols) $30M/year and field a competitive team; StL is NOT one of those teams.
    If he wants that much, there are few options. Yankees are set at 1B, that leaves who? Red Sox and Mets? Maybe.
    I love Pujols, but if keeping him means the Cardinals are using 25-30% of their salary on him…he can walk, I’d much rather root for a competitive team than a losing team with a whining super-paid superstar, which is what we would have if he gets $30M from Dewitt.

  6. Jonny5 - Feb 26, 2010 at 4:14 PM

    He will be paid just enough to keep him from becoming a storm trooper for Stien-Vadar. Stay away from the dark side Albert!!!!

  7. YANKEES1996 - Feb 26, 2010 at 5:33 PM

    Jonny, don’t know if you have been paying attention or not but Mr. Pujols is not needed on the “dark side” or by the “Borg” or whatever else you all call the Yankees as we have a first baseman by the name of Mark Teixeira. By the way I refer to the Yankees as 27 time World Series Champions!

  8. salvo - Feb 26, 2010 at 5:35 PM

    The Cardinals’ owners are hugely wealthy, and the franchise makes boatloads of money and is worth about 80% more now (estimated $486M) than it was even as recently as 2002 ($271M), and I’m sure Pujols has contributed to that (the team was bought for $150M in 1996).
    The Cardinals’ 2008 revenue (I don’t have figures for 2009) was almost $200M. Now obviously, revenue isn’t profit, but the most valuable asset the team has is Pujols. Give him his $30M, and if that makes the payroll bump to $120M, then so be it. They can afford it. As long as Pujols stays in StL, and they continue to surround him with a few key (read: high-salaried) players (Holliday, Carpenter, Wainwright, etc.) they will be contenders every year, justifying a fat payroll because they’ll pull in 3 million fans every year.

  9. Morgan W - Feb 26, 2010 at 5:55 PM

    Firstly, his ‘Job’ is known as a ‘sport’ for 99.9% of us. These ‘parasites’ are known as the Brittish Royal family and shall be addressed as such. Care to refresh me as to the exact percentages of TAX PAYERS MONEY paid out by local citizens so that less than half the population can pretend to be interested in a baseball game? And so that a multi-billionare can add a fancy building to his collection?

  10. Old Gator - Feb 26, 2010 at 6:33 PM

    Uh – I know that the English have a hungering for desolate places – Alec Guinness says so in Lawrence of Arabia – but since when did they seize another “t” for “Brittish”?
    I recently read an interesting book by George Will, whose politics nauseates me – imagine a Sloaney from Illinois, as long as you insist on thinking like a royalist – but who is redeemed by his love for and knowledge about baseball, called Men at Work, and not, as 99.9% of “us” (whatever random population sampling you mean) might think, at “Sport.” And with goooood reason, too. There are some interesting insights into the exhaustive intellectual prep, nutritional regimens and exercise that these guys do to keep in shape and achieve the kind of excellence at what they do that the “Brittish Royal family” has achieved solely at freeloading and solely by gulping free meals and chasing tail for the tabloids. Give it a read. I guess the other 1% of “us” have already read it.
    And you’re absolutely right about the ridiculous practice of building playpens for oligarchs with taxpayer’s money. You don’t have to be royalty to be parasitic, but you probably do have to think you are. There’s a good reason why most of the countries in Europe took theirs out and shot, hanged, exiled or guillotined them, and the few that are left are kept on a really short leash. When the fog lifts from the channel, have a look across and see how the landscape has changed. It sounds like you haven’t looked since before the Bastille was taken.

  11. Morgan W - Feb 27, 2010 at 3:26 AM

    Interesting how you somehow come to the conclusion that I reside in the UK. Assuming things are the result of poor effort and achieve even worse results. There are 54 current countries of the commonwealth.
    Several lunar cycles ago, I found myself in the position of being a semi-professional cricketer. (Thats the summer sport played by the rest of the world) I took it very seriously, trained as often as possible and basically dedicated my early 20’s towards my goal of simply achieving as much as I could and aspire to represent my country(The highest level in the sport). If I could make a living out of it, that would be just icing on the cake.
    As with most of ‘us’ in that particular position, you either carry on slogging away until youre 35 and have no career afterwards, or you pull the pin, appreciate the lessons and sheer enjoyment the game has given you and you move on in life.
    As a passionate sport(including baseball) follower, I am almost sick to my stomach when I read things like he ‘deserves’ more, or when a player is holding out for a better contract etc etc. I am sure most of ‘us’ can remember a time in our lives when, if someone offered us a nice salary and a free meal at a restaurant every night to simply play a ‘game’ ‘we’ would jump at the chance.

  12. Ryan - Feb 27, 2010 at 3:58 AM

    What an absolutely horrible comment thread. So here’s a reboot:
    If I were an amazing, world class talent ballplayer who had already made tens of millions of dollars like Pujols, I would forgo a huge annual salary and demand an ownership stake in the ballclub. Rather than continue to let the owners reap huge profits from the labor of others, why not demand to be included in the ownership group? Billy Beane was given a stake in the ownership of the Athletics, so why not Pujols?

  13. MVD - Feb 27, 2010 at 6:45 AM

    On the open market, he would make 30 or more. If he stays with the Cardinals “to win”, he will settle for less. If he, in fact, wants to win, he will stay away from the Mets no matter how bad they need a 1B or how much money they throw at him. If he wants to make the most money in baseball as the game’s best baseball possibly should/could/deserves or if he simply wants to be a Yankee, they will say to him, “You are stellar defensively, Albert. Would you like to try Left Field? Or would you prefer we move Mark there?” and he will make at least 35 for the next 6 years.

  14. Old Gator - Feb 27, 2010 at 9:33 AM

    Uh – I don’t assume you live in the UK, but because I did for many years and because my wife continues to be English even as her patois declines into mid-Atlantic, I am well aware of the expanse of that antique geopolitical residue called the Commonwealth. But what of that. I was inviting you to take an imaginative leap of perspective for comic effect, is all. Come back when you’ve engaged your sense of humor a bit and disengaged your bile duct. Somewhere along the line there’s probably a skein of logic in your responses but it’s just too subtle for me. First you’re pissed off at my disrespect or whatever you think it is for the economics of maintaining the Royal Family in the obscene style to which they have become accustomed, then you turn around and say that you’re nauseated by reading how people think athletes are entitled to getting something just for being there; then you pooh-poohed the idea of “sport” as “work,” and in the second you’re puelling away about how hard athletes work to try and get someplace in their sport when my comments in the first place. Okay, I don’t necessarily expect ideological consistency in the modern world, but it really helps to maintain a little coherence.

  15. Charles Gates - Feb 27, 2010 at 11:28 AM

    Rather than continue to let the owners reap huge profits from the labor of others, why not demand to be included in the ownership group?
    Socialism at its finest. If a worker bee makes enough honey, and if it’s just sweet enough, suddenly it becomes the bees right to lay claim to the hive.
    Your idea of trading salary for ownership stock is valid, and something I’ve heard discussed in regards to Jeter. But, in that sense, it’s a negotiation. I am quite uncomfortable with any notion that the owners’ property ownership rights can be superceeded by an employee, even if they happen to be the best at what they do.
    RE: the Gator/Morgan feud: Gator insinuated that Morgan lives in Great Britian. Morgan said, “No, I live in one of the 54 commonwealths of GB.” That seems to be just a matter of semantics.
    The ‘cross the pond jab’ aimed at the Royal family has not yet been countered by Morgan, which I eagerly await as I, for the life of me, can’t imagine a justification as to why, by birthright, all the king’s horses and all the king’s men deserve their forunte whereas a working man, someone who negotiated a salary and works for it, does not.

  16. Old Gator - Feb 27, 2010 at 12:18 PM

    Neither can I. Seventy million pounds would buy a lot of improvements to local medical and vocational services in places like Brixton an Yorkshire. And how badly would it hurt those inbred Windsor clowns to go out and work for a living themselves? I mean, it’s silly enough for the British taxpayer to be supporting their larded royal buttocks, but to be supporting German larded royal buttocks at that?

  17. Morgan W - Feb 27, 2010 at 1:23 PM

    Since when did pre-arranged marriages to your Fathers German cousin be misconstreud as being inbred??? And why has no one told me?

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  21. Old Gator - Feb 27, 2010 at 5:47 PM

    Well, first of all, it’s not the kind of thing one usually trumpets about, you know? Even lacking a laboratory with a microscope sufficiently powerful to break down the sequences of DNA in mitochondria and the like, I’ve always found that acute stupidity, intense feelings of insularity and clannishness, a grotesquely extenuated learning curve, and an apparently congenital inability to function normally in a world where one must actually work to feed oneself were pretty blatant signs of inbreeding. I guess that since you live in some far flung relict outpost of colonialism somewhere, you may not know that that’s what they call it in places like Kentucky and thereabouts.

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