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Albert Pujols gave the Cardinals much more than they paid for

Dec 8, 2011, 5:07 PM EDT

pujols getty Getty Images

Cardinals fans are predictably very upset with Albert Pujols for choosing to leave St. Louis and sign with the Angels for considerably more money, but it’s worth remembering that because of MLB’s service time and financial structure he’s spent most of his career being significantly underpaid.

Pujols was paid around $104 million for his 11 seasons with the Cardinals, during which time Fan Graphs calculates his overall value as being approximately $330 million.

And that’s regular season only, so the $330 million in value doesn’t even include Pujols hitting .330 with 18 homers and a 1.046 OPS in 74 postseason games while winning two World Series titles.

Those figures are based on Wins Above Replacement and the typical cost of acquiring players on the open market, so there’s certainly some room to quibble one way or another, but the main point is clear: Pujols was an MVP-caliber player for 11 consecutive seasons and the Cardinals, while paying him handsomely, also paid dramatically below market rates for more than a decade of Hall of Fame production.

  1. blueintown - Dec 8, 2011 at 5:11 PM

    Heeeere we go..

    • randygnyc - Dec 8, 2011 at 5:54 PM

      Another shackled, brown skinned man? Are we to believe this is akin to modern day slavery? In other words, AP is illiterate, cant read English, and he waived his right to an interpreter and or legal representation when he signed his contracts? Wait, WHAT?

      • JBerardi - Dec 8, 2011 at 6:04 PM

        “Are we to believe this is akin to modern day slavery?”

        Uhhh… who’s suggesting that?

      • Kyle - Dec 8, 2011 at 6:10 PM

  2. cur68 - Dec 8, 2011 at 5:17 PM

    Well in the context of that I feel even less negative about his move into the AL. Heck, since he’s now in the same league as the Beaver Men, I’ll get to see even more of Phat Al goin’ about his bidness than previous and in the sunshine to boot.

    • spudchukar - Dec 8, 2011 at 6:51 PM

      Be careful what you wish for.

  3. WhenMattStairsIsKing - Dec 8, 2011 at 5:19 PM

    There shouldn’t be a need to defend a decision by Albert that he had every right to make. The Cardinals low-balled him and he left the Midwest for Los Angeles. Or Anaheim. Or whatever the hell the Angels are calling themselves at the moment.

    • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Dec 8, 2011 at 5:48 PM

      What’s to dislike about my post? Are people really that upset over this?

      • fearlessleader - Dec 8, 2011 at 5:52 PM

        Speaking only for myself, I’m not wild about “low-balled” being used to describe a $220 million, ten-year offer. Unless there’s a great deal of stuff to which we’re not privy, Albert hasn’t exactly suffered from a lack of respect during his years in St. Louis or during these negotiations.

        Also, I’m having a crappy day, so I’m in the mood to thumbs-down things.

      • cur68 - Dec 8, 2011 at 5:52 PM

        I don’t think rational thought has too much to do with this WMSIK. Lotta aimless rage and hurt feelings = irrational thumb behaviour, I think. Just try e-back patting and the phrase “there, there”. Seems to have a positive effect…or at any rate seems to have a positive effects on the thumbs.

      • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Dec 8, 2011 at 5:55 PM

        He signed for $34 million more dollars, and possibly left $55 million more dollars on the table from Florida, in comparison to St Louis’s final offer.

        So yes, in retrospect, in these specific terms, Albert was low-balled. The only difference is, we’re talking about a much larger dollar amount.

      • fearlessleader - Dec 8, 2011 at 6:04 PM

        I suppose “low-balling,” to me, implies “trying to pay much less than what someone is worth”—and I don’t think any single player, not even Albert, is worth $25 million a year during his thirties. The Cardinals got outbid, but I don’t think their offer was insulting, except to someone with a larger ego than we realized and/or a burning desire to be the highest-paid first baseman in the game.

      • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Dec 9, 2011 at 11:00 AM

        The Cardinals could have found a way to better match the Angels. Okay, maybe low-balled was a bit dramatic in some folks’ eyes; he took a higher offer when he had every right to. In my eyes, there’s nothing to defend here. Better? :-P

    • Thunder Chicken - Dec 8, 2011 at 5:56 PM

      They low-balled him compared to what other franchises could offer… But the Cardinal offer was more than double they’re first contract, which was at the time the richest contract in franchise history I believe. Does that still constitute a “low-ball” offer?

    • pitperc - Dec 8, 2011 at 6:31 PM

      Thumbs down for the cliche. The name change happened nearly seven years ago; are we still doing this?

      Still love your handle, though.

      • JBerardi - Dec 8, 2011 at 9:54 PM

        “The name change happened nearly seven years ago; are we still doing this?”

        Yes, and we’ll continue to do it until the team stops literally calling itself “The The Angels Angels of Anaheim.”

      • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Dec 9, 2011 at 11:03 AM

        Thanks man. I know what the name change is – I was just being snarky because using two city names for one team is forever idiotic.

  4. hansob - Dec 8, 2011 at 5:23 PM

    Has there EVER been a player that DIDN’T earn their money if they spent their first 10 years with the same team?

    • pbannard - Dec 8, 2011 at 5:37 PM

      There’s earning your money, and then there’s providing $225 million surplus value. I’m pretty sure no one has ever provided that much extra value over their first ten years.

      • fearlessleader - Dec 8, 2011 at 5:55 PM

        But does that mean the Cardinals should have overpaid him (and hamstrung themselves) for his next ten years? Or does it just mean that Dan Lozano needed some fast money eight years ago when he probably could have held out for a better deal for his client?

    • pitperc - Dec 8, 2011 at 6:27 PM

      While not meeting your threshold of 10 years, Jeff Mathis DIDN’T earn the money paid to him by the Angels over the last seven years. $4.2M for career -2.5 WAR. I’m going to go out on a limb and say over the next three years, he still won’t have earned that salary.

      • pitperc - Dec 8, 2011 at 6:33 PM

        I’m sure there are more, that’s just one I happen to (painfully) know very well.

  5. fearlessleader - Dec 8, 2011 at 5:25 PM

    http://ablogoftheirown.wordpress.com/2011/12/08/what-not-to-say-to-cardinal-fans-today/

    • cur68 - Dec 8, 2011 at 5:38 PM

      er…there, there? ….I never know what to say at these moments…

      • fearlessleader - Dec 8, 2011 at 5:42 PM

        I live in the heart of Angels country…..mostly I wrote it to get my gleeful friends to stop posting faux-sympathetic things on my Facebook wall. :)

      • cur68 - Dec 8, 2011 at 5:47 PM

        Oh. Well…(pats back in panic pat, pat, pat) er…there, there…it’ll be…um.. ok?

      • Francisco (FC) - Dec 9, 2011 at 8:33 AM

        I’ll be over with Neapolitan ice cream and Napoleon Dynamite in Blu-Ray.

  6. lovesmesomeme - Dec 8, 2011 at 5:27 PM

    BooHoo Alberts gone. Go ahead you crybabies and burn your jerseys and wale out loud that albert should have given the Cardinals a discount, Get f***ng real. And why on earth would there need to be a guard by his statue, is it because idiotic fans who live in there parents basement want throw stuff on it? Get over it. Not one these owners or players gives a red rats a$$ what you want or feel. Enjoy it for what is, a game.

    • Thunder Chicken - Dec 8, 2011 at 6:12 PM

      Do you always get this angry telling people it’s just a game?

      • lovesmesomeme - Dec 8, 2011 at 7:45 PM

        No not always, but sometimes, most of the time no.

  7. richeich - Dec 8, 2011 at 5:27 PM

    I feel so sorry for him. Is he to poor to feed himself.I don’t feel sorry for anyone making millions of dollars every year.Give me a break!

    • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Dec 8, 2011 at 5:38 PM

      This article has nothing to do with pity.

  8. redbirdfan81 - Dec 8, 2011 at 5:37 PM

    I’m sorry, but since when is $10M a year chump change? Give me the same money and not only will I retire happily and comfortably, but so will my kids! And their kids too! Greed, that’s all he is, greedy! And don’t ever bring up God again as greed is a sin!

    • El Bravo - Dec 8, 2011 at 5:44 PM

      Greed is you expecting the best player in a generation to play for your team in an underpaid status for his entire career after that same person helped bring your team two World Series championships. Keep it real partner, stop being greedy.

      • fearlessleader - Dec 8, 2011 at 5:48 PM

        They offered him somewhere in the neighborhood of $22 million a year for a decade. That’s hardly parsimonious.

        Albert’s refrain for years now has been that he wanted to win (which, by the way, was going to be a lot tougher to do if he was still commanding a quarter of the payroll as he aged), he wanted to retire a Cardinal, and he wasn’t going to leave for a few million bucks more per year. We all understand that baseball is a business, but can you understand that this is a fresh wound and we’re all feeling pretty raw right now?

      • Kevin S. - Dec 9, 2011 at 4:13 AM

        No, actually, I can’t. Albert Pujols was not your significant other, and if you’re going to treat him as such, there’s a problem.

      • Francisco (FC) - Dec 9, 2011 at 8:38 AM

        To be fair, she didn’t say it was logical. In any case some people are more invested emotionally than others. I’m pretty sure Cardinals fans will be fine and it will wear off by Christmas… maybe.

    • lazlosother - Dec 8, 2011 at 7:03 PM

      Give me $10M a year and I’ll be happy too…. unless my services are worth $25M= a year.

    • lovesmesomeme - Dec 8, 2011 at 8:31 PM

      He wasnt greedy when he was hitting jacks for your team was he. And drop the $10M/yr chump change thing, you cant now, nor have you ever been able to hit a slider and have a chance to make that kind of money, so save it.

  9. El Bravo - Dec 8, 2011 at 5:38 PM

    CASH RULES EVERYTHING AROUND ME – C.R.E.A.M. – DOLLA DOLLA BILLZ YALL!

    • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Dec 8, 2011 at 5:56 PM

      Oh, hi, A-Rod’s brain waves.

    • Alex K - Dec 8, 2011 at 7:56 PM

      You forgot the most apt part….Get the money!

  10. srbumblebeeman - Dec 8, 2011 at 5:43 PM

    Cardinals and Pujols fan. I am not upset at Albert, upset at the Cardinals for letting the best hitter in the game walk out. A sad, sad day.

    • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Dec 8, 2011 at 5:58 PM

      He’d be painful to have on an NL team after 2016 or so. There will be life after Albert love.

  11. JBerardi - Dec 8, 2011 at 6:10 PM

    The Cardinals should just sign Prince Fielder. Go from a 32 year old all-star first baseman to a 28 year old all-star first baseman. They say the best revenge is living well…

  12. metalhead65 - Dec 8, 2011 at 6:14 PM

    he did what was best for him and his family no problem but stop with the he was under paid nonsense and the cardnials low balled him. nobody made him sign what was at the time one of the best contracts in baseball. are we to feel sorry he “only” makining 10 million a year? as for his new deal the cards offered what 20-22 million a year? he was offered way more and took it as anyone would have but stop acting like he was insulted by the cards offer. as long as he does not say it wasn’t about the money then nobody should be to upset with him except cardnial fans which of coarse I am not. they will get over it especially in about 5 years when his production falls and he is no longer the best in the game and their team is not paying him. isn’t bad enough they are inventing new stats in baseball everyday they have to invent something that says somebody making as much as he has is underpaid?

  13. sfm073 - Dec 8, 2011 at 6:14 PM

    Omg he only made $100 million dollars for playing the game of baseball. He and his agent both signed the contract. No one had a gun to his head. I hope he’s miserable in LA.

  14. paperlions - Dec 8, 2011 at 6:18 PM

    Yet another mis-use of the Fangraphs dollars stat….that is only used to estimate what a performance, on average, would cost if procured through the FA market, and NOT what performances in general are worth. It is an estimate of what teams pay through free agency for marginal wins, not how much wins cost.

    This is akin to saying that the Phillies got about $325M worth of performance from their 2011 roster because they won 102 games and a roster of replacement level players would be expected to win about 37 games [(102-37)*$5M = $325M.] Those values are only applicable within the context of how teams spend money in free agency to improve their club….not the cost of performance that leads to wins in general. Using this logic, the Phillies got way more than they paid for out of their players last year….which is not true.

    • Thunder Chicken - Dec 8, 2011 at 6:26 PM

      Well said. But I’d take it even further to say that every franchise pays its players (as a whole) to win championships, and in that sense the 2006 and 2011 Cardinals got exactly what they paid for.

  15. isujames - Dec 8, 2011 at 6:58 PM

    I see why the angels have never won anything and will never win anything.Im from the stl,we not upset with him he gave us 11 great seasons and @ 32 he still got a lot in the tank,but honestly the Angels are fools for giving him $254 mill to play 10 years 4 them.Thats INSANE,and most people in the lou say good for him he got paid,as he deserved for all the years he was underpaid.Honestly ill be suprised if he is good for five years.

    • chaseutley - Dec 9, 2011 at 12:03 AM

      Quote: >>>”I see why the angels have never won anything and will never win anything.”<<<

      5 division titles and a World Series in 10 years. C'mon man, you're better than that.

  16. thefalcon123 - Dec 8, 2011 at 7:10 PM

    Oh spare me.

    In 2003, after three years in the bigs, Pujols and the Cardinals agreed to a $116 million dollar extension while Pujols still would have been under team control for four more years. These deals happen often and benefit each side:
    1. It gives the player security in the event of injury or rapid decline in performance
    2. It gives the team some level of cost control on a star player leading up to and a little past his free agency.

    Such deals happen all the time and often times work out better for one side or another. Both sides know exactly what they are doing, so please, spare me any nonsense that Pujols deserves extra credit for being underpaid. Both sides potentially risked tens of millions if things didn’t go the right way. Albert traded value for security, and he got it.

    That being said, he got his value too. I don’t fault him one bit for it (okay, I do, only because I’m a totally homer and would have been pissed even had the Cardinals offered him 5 million a year).

  17. genericcommenter - Dec 8, 2011 at 7:17 PM

    Is agent also got him what might be considered the most team-friendly extension in history, possibly because the agent needed cash bad for his hooker debts.

    • paperlions - Dec 9, 2011 at 8:34 AM

      Look at the extensions signed by other young players…if the play continues to be awesome (Braun, Longoria), the extension will always look team-friendly, but in effect the player may still make more than he would have if he had just made the minimum and then went through arbitration.

  18. cintiphil - Dec 8, 2011 at 7:27 PM

    Ok: I will take you redbird fans on again. You have got to be sad that Albert is gone, however, I will miss him too. I am in St. Lou for about 3-4 games a year, and love to watch him play. You have a lot to be happy about there. With your big arm returning to the staff next season, you have a better chance to repeat in the central than we have of winning in Cinti. Our guys are good and we have some up and coming young prospects, but you have plenty of legit stars. We don’t have Holliday, Berkman, Molina or the pitchers you have (in my opinion). We will be able to compete, but too many factors have to come together for us to win. And don’t forget, Brandon is balking at signing after 2012. Walt is not willing to pay what he wants at this time, and will be in talks all Summer for the next year. You know how that can turn out. So, take heart in that you still have a good chance in 2012. Remember, Holliday and Berkman carried the team most of the year, as Albert was hitting about .250 at that time. Albert did little until August and Sept, which helped for sure. I don’t think you guys are a one man team, even if you do. If I were the GM, I would go after Fielder and he will more than make up your loss.

  19. acieu - Dec 8, 2011 at 7:33 PM

    Hey it’s hard to lose him for St Louis but a long term contract even for a superstar at his age might come back to haunt a team so perhaps it will work out for he Cards

    • paperlions - Dec 9, 2011 at 8:34 AM

      Might?

  20. mgflolox - Dec 8, 2011 at 8:11 PM

    Well, if it makes you feel any better, the Angels will pay Pujols much more money than he will likely be worth over the next 10 years, so that should make him pretty much even.

  21. isujames - Dec 8, 2011 at 9:12 PM

    It was good here while it lasted,the cardinals should make fielder a six year 165 million dollar offer.

  22. agilmore1080 - Dec 8, 2011 at 9:43 PM

    I hope he tears his Achilles opening day and spends the rest of his career as an injury plagued disappointment. I hate him more than the Yankees now. He’s a fraud and a phony. At least now that he’s living so close to his scumbag agent they can all have drug fueled hooker parties together.

  23. mojosmagic - Dec 8, 2011 at 11:15 PM

    Algimore you are an idiot to wish for an injury. The Cards could have traded Pujos, chose to keep him and won a World Series.Good for St Louis. It was reported the Phillies offered the Cards local hero Ryan Howard for Pujos and were turned down three years ago. The Phillies gave Howard a 5 year deal 3 years before they had to locking him up for 8 years. Looked good at the time but was seriously hurt so who knows how the remaining 5 years plays out? The Cards should have taken care of Pujos years ago and chose to milk their last deal which was their choice. In other word it works both ways so it is time for you to man up and start acting like an adult.

    • paperlions - Dec 9, 2011 at 8:38 AM

      You are suggesting that trading Pujols was an option, but the other guy is an idiot? Okay, yeah, he’s an idiot, too.

  24. hustleandflomax - Dec 10, 2011 at 2:25 PM

    I don’t understand why the Cardinals are somehow expected to apologize for the franchise record contract given to a player so early in his career. The Cards held up their end of the deal and Albert, to his credit, lived up to his end of the deal without sulking or renegotiating midway through his contract. Nobody forced him to sign that long of a deal. It was a great contract at the time, for both team and player.

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