Three-time Most Valuable Player Albert Pujols and All-Star pitcher C.J. Wilson agreed on free-agent contracts with the Los Angeles Angels, another dramatic roster makeover of Major League Baseball’s offseason.
The Angels announced the deals at a news conference in Dallas, where baseball’s Winter Meetings were winding down today.
General Manager Jerry Dipoto declined to discuss terms of the contract. Yahoo Sports said Pujols, a first baseman who led the St. Louis Cardinals to two World Series championships, would make $250 million to $260 million over 10 years, while ESPN said Wilson, a left-handed starter, will be paid $75 million over five seasons.
“We’re very excited about what this can do for our future and what this means to our team today,” Dipoto said. “We feel like the two of them, in addition to what we have in place with the Angels, gives us a very unique opportunity.”
The Miami Marlins yesterday announced the free-agent signings of two other All-Stars, shortstop Jose Reyes and pitcher Mark Buehrle.
Pujols turned down offers to return to the St. Louis Cardinals or sign with the Marlins by choosing a move to the American League from the National League, Yahoo Sports reported, citing a person it didn’t identify.
Wilson, who’s spent his seven-year career with the Texas Rangers, also was courted by the Marlins. A 2011 All-Star, Wilson finished sixth in the Cy Young Award voting for the AL’s best pitcher after going 16-7 with a 2.94 earned run average in 223.1 innings pitched.
Pujols, 31, has spent his 11-year career with the Cardinals. The first baseman has a career .328 batting average with 445 home runs.
He and Wilson join a team that has made the playoffs six times in the past 10 years, winning the World Series in 2002. Arturo Moreno, who once was a co-owner of the advertising company Outdoor Systems Inc., bought the Angels from Walt Disney Co. in 2003 for about $180 million, which would be $70 million to $80 million less than what the team has committed to Pujols, according to the Yahoo Sports report.
“Arte Moreno is as competitive an owner and as genuine a person as there is in the game,” Dipoto said. “This is in large part a tribute to him. This domino effect is kicked into gear by Arte Moreno.”
The Angels may be expecting more revenue from a new television agreement. In an October court filing on behalf of Major League Baseball related to the bankruptcy case of the Los Angeles Dodgers, television consultant Ed Desser said the Angels were close to a new broadcast agreement, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The Angels’ current contract with News Corp.’s Fox, which runs through 2015, pays about $50 million a season, the newspaper said. The Rangers last year got a 20-year, $1.6 billion contract from Fox.
“When they’re receiving a substantial increase in TV revenue, they want to justify those dollars,” said New York-based cable TV consultant Lee Burke. “Justifying it is bringing Pujols.”
Pujols hit .299 with 37 homers and 99 runs batted in last Season, when he made about $14.5 million in 2011. His average annual salary of $25 million to $26 million would have made him the third highest-paid player last season, behind Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees ($32 million) and Vernon Wells of the Angels ($26.2 million). The Angels’ opening day payroll of $138.5 million ranked fourth in baseball.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that the Cardinals’ last offer was for a 10-year, $220 million contract, with nine years guaranteed. Pujols also negotiated with the Marlins at baseball’s Winter Meetings this week.
The nine-time All-Star has finished in the top 10 of MVP voting each of his 11 years in Major League Baseball. He has hit 32 or more home runs each season, and 2011 was the first time that Pujols had fallen below 100 RBIs in a season.
New Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, who replaced the retired Tony La Russa, said Pujols’s impact on a team goes far beyond the hits and home runs he compiles each season.
“You start with the intangibles, the leadership and the comfort of the guys on the team in having a stable guy who’s done what he’s done,” Matheny told reporters at the Winter Meetings. “And nobody else has done what he’s done in his 11 years in the league.”
Wilson, 31, reached the World Series with Texas the past two years. He has a 43-35 career record with a 3.60 earned run average.