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

Leave a comment

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.

1.
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.

BREAKING: Manny Machado to sign with the Padres: 10 years, $300 million

Getty Images
22 Comments

Jeff Passan of ESPN reports that Manny Machado has a deal with the San Diego Padres. Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reports that the deal is for ten years and $300 million with an opt-out after year five.

At the moment there is some disagreement as to how “done” this deal is, with Padres chairman Ron Fowler saying “We do not have a deal. We are continuing discussions.” Ken Rosenthal, however, says that’s “semantics” and that the financial terms are in place, with the deal requiring over some final touches on language and Machado’s physical, which will likely be a formality.

The Padres were a late entrant into the Machado sweepstakes, but they reportedly met with Machado last week. The club has obviously not won for a long time, but they have a strong farm system. While that usually mitigates against a big free agent signing, Machado’s age — 26 — means that he’s still likely to be a productive player when that core of prospects is mature. And if it doesn’t develop, hey, he’s made some serious bank and can still opt-out at an age when he might get another decent paycheck.

For the Padres, Machado represents the biggest single investment in a player in club history. Last year they spent too, of course, giving Eric Hosmer an eight-year, $144 million contract, but this is definitely next-level. As for the baseball side of things, it’s likely that Machado will be the full-time third baseman with Luis Urias handling shortstop. While all of the talk about Machado over the past several months has been focused on money and, sometimes, his alleged lack of hustle, the Padres are getting a player with a career line of .282/.335/.487 (121 OPS+), 175 career homers and a 33.8 career WAR in seven big league seasons. While he played shortstop last year and as a minor leaguer, his past and future is at third, where he is a superior defender. As for the hustle: it has almost exclusively been an obsession of the media, based on an ill-advised postgame quote in October. He has received no bad reviews from former teammates, all of whom speak highly of his game and his work ethic.

When the offseason began it appeared that the Phillies or the Yankees or, perhaps, the White Sox had the inside track on Machado. Everyone took a wait-and-see approach, reasonably believing that by waiting out Machado, a better deal could be struck. The risk of that approach, of course, is that it allowed the Padres to talk themselves into getting bold and, ultimately, swooping in to strike this deal.