Sure, this is as far-fetched as they come, but wouldn’t both the Yankees and the Angels have to think about this?
Alex Rodriguez currently has about $100 million left on his 10-year, $275 million contract that expires in 2017. Along with a $3 million portion of his signing bonus due next January, he’ll receives salaries of $25 million in 2014, $21 million in 2015 and $20 million in both 2016-17. Plus, he’s still owed about a third of his $28 million salary from 2013.
Albert Pujols, on the other hand, has about $218 million left on his backloaded 10-year, $240 million contract through 2021. His salary jumps from $16 million this year to $23 million next year and then increases by $1 million each season until he makes $30 million in year 10.
So, basically there’s a $120 million difference between the contracts. If you equate A-Rod’s deal as being $100 million of completely dead money, then it’s essentially taking on Pujols at $120 million for 8 1/3 years, a bit less than $15 million per year.
At this point, that’s overly expensive. If Pujols were declared a free agent today, no one is giving him $120 million. Maybe someone would take a chance on him at $15 million per year for two or three years.
Except, for the Yankees, the math is actually a bit more generous. Pujols’ deal, being worth $24 million annually rather than $27.5 million, would aid the Yankees with the luxury tax and make it a little easier to come in under the threshold in 2014 as they desperately want to do.
Frankly, I still think the Yankees say no. I expect Pujols to bounce back and have a couple of better seasons than his 2013 campaign, but the last five years of his deal are a killer. He’s going to make $140 million from ages 37-41. Plus, the Yankees already have Mark Teixeira presumably vastly overpaid at first base. The swap would make a bit more sense if the Angels kicked in the $20 million they’ve saved these first two years by backloading the contract.
With all of the money they’d shed, the Angels would be foolish not to accept the deal if it were proposed to them. After all, there’s the added bonus of not having to pay Rodriguez while he’s suspended by MLB. And maybe he will someday be ruled permanently disabled, at which point insurance would cover 80 percent of his salary.
And, no, I didn’t forget Pujols himself. He has no-trade protection and almost certainly would say no to such a deal. Even if he were curious about playing for the Yankees, it’d be quite the drag on his legacy if he were traded straight up for the most toxic player in baseball.