Albert Pujols, Angels agree to deal

Updated: December 9, 2011, 9:30 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

DALLAS -- Three-time NL MVP Albert Pujols agreed Thursday to a $254 million, 10-year contract with the Los Angeles Angels.

Pujols' contract, which is subject to a physical, is the second-highest in baseball history and only the third to break the $200 million barrier, following Alex Rodriguez's $252 million, 10-year deal with Texas before the 2001 season and A-Rod's $275 million, 10-year contract with the Yankees before the 2008 season.

"This is a monumental day for Angel fans and I could not be more excited," owner Arte Moreno said in a statement.

Los Angeles also agreed to a five-year, $77.5 million contract with C.J. Wilson, who was considered the top starting pitcher on the free-agent market.

Pujols had turned down an offer from the Cardinals, the only team he has ever played for, about a year ago, but St. Louis was still in the bidding as of Wednesday.

The Cardinals had planned to talk with Pujols' agent one more time Thursday before heading home. But sources told ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney that the Cardinals' latest offer was for nine years and a little less than $200 million. That would have made him the fourth-highest paid first baseman. With the Angels deal, he is tops.

One source who spoke with Pujols' camp Wednesday came away with the impression the two sides were farther apart than had been widely portrayed earlier in the day.

"We are disappointed that we were unable to reach an agreement to keep Albert Pujols in St. Louis," Cardinals chairman and CEO Bill DeWitt Jr. said in a statement. "Albert is a great champion and we will always be thankful for his many achievements in a Cardinals uniform, as well as his contributions to the St. Louis community. I have the highest regard for Albert both personally and professionally, and appreciate his direct involvement in this process. 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."

Pujols' deal includes a full no-trade clause, which Pujols had been seeking and may have been a sticking point in his negotiations with the Miami Marlins.

"Albert's career performance clearly speaks for itself," general manager Jerry Dipoto said in the statement. "He has proven to be the best player of his generation."

Pujols is a three-time MVP who batted .299 with 37 homers and 99 RBIs in 2011, the only season in his 11-year career that he didn't have 100 RBIs or hit better than .300. But the 31-year-old did battle an arm injury.

Pujols won the rookie of the year award in 2001. He has a lifetime .328 batting average and has hit 445 home runs.

To add perspective to the Pujols signing, Arte Moreno paid only $184 million for the Angels franchise in 2003. He will pay Pujols much more than that over the next 10 years.

Pujols has spent all 11 of his major league seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals, becoming a franchise icon second only to Stan Musial. He is fourth in career slugging percentage at .617, trailing only Hall of Famers Babe Ruth (.690), Ted Williams (.634) and Lou Gehrig (.632). But he had his poorest season in 2011 and at 31 is likely to spend the majority of his career with the Angels at designated hitter rather than first base.

Pujols led the Cardinals to a World Series title this fall -- his second with the team in the last six seasons. He also had been pursued by the Miami Marlins, but they dropped out Wednesday after agreeing to a deal with left-hander Mark Buehrle that raised their free agent-spending to $191 million for three players following deals with closer Heath Bell and shortstop Jose Reyes.

Some have questioned whether it's smart to give a 10-year deal to a 31-year-old.

"I will say that Albert Pujols' age to me is not a concern," DiPoto said. "He's an honorable man and a very respectful man. I'm not a scientist, but I can tell you he hits like he's 27. ... I will say this, that in regard to the evolution of a hitter, as hitters begin to age, into their 30s and to whatever point you can project, there is a certain quality and a trait in a hitter, the patience they exhibit. Albert has had an extraordinary career with regard to maintaining control of the strike zone. Albert is still as big an impact guy after 11 years as there is in this game."

The Angels jumped into the bidding for Pujols relatively late, after the Marlins' serious run and the Cardinals last-ditch attempt to keep their icon.

"This ramped up the last couple of days, certainly since we've been here in Dallas," DiPoto said. "Prior to that, we were spreading that net wide. We contacted a variety of agents and had discussions with a variety of teams about ways our club could improve."

Information from ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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