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

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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.

Yankees acquire James Paxton from Mariners

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The Yankees announced that the club has acquired starter James Paxton from the Mariners in exchange for three prospects: pitcher Justus Sheffield, outfielder Dom Thompson-Williams, and pitcher Erik Swanson.

Paxton, 30, has been among the game’s better starters over the past few years. In 2018, he went 11-6 with a 3.76 ERA and a 208/42 K/BB ratio in 160 1/3 innings. The lefty has two more years of arbitration eligibility remaining after earning $4.9 million this past season.

Sheffield, 22, is the headliner in the Mariners’ return. He made his major league debut in September for the Yankees, pitching 2 2/3 innings across three appearances. Two of those appearances were scoreless; in the third, he gave up a three-run home run to J.D. Martinez, certainly not an uncommon result among pitchers. MLB Pipeline rates Sheffield as the Yankees’ No. 1 prospect and No. 31 overall in baseball.

Thompson-Williams, 23, was selected by the Yankees in the fifth round of the 2016 draft. This past season, between Single-A Charleston and High-A Tampa, he hit .299/.363/.546 with 22 home runs, 74 RBI, 63 runs scored, and 20 stolen bases in 415 plate appearances. He was not among the Yankees’ top-30 prospects, per MLB Pipeline.

Swanson, 25, was selected by the Yankees in the eighth round of the 2014 draft. He spent most of his 2018 campaign between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Overall, he posted a 2.66 ERA with a 139/29 K/BB ratio in 121 2/3 innings. MLB Pipeline rated him No. 22 in the Yankees’ system.

This trade comes as no surprise as the Yankees clearly wanted to upgrade the starting rotation and the Mariners seemed motivated to trade Paxton this offseason. To the Mariners’ credit, they got a solid return for Paxton, as Sheffield likely becomes the organization’s No. 1 prospect. The only worries about this trade for the Yankees is how Paxton will fare in the more hitter-friendly confines of Yankee Stadium compared to the spacious Safeco Field, and Paxton’s durability. Paxton has made more than 20 starts in a season just twice in his career — the last two years (24 and 28). The Yankees are likely not done adding, however. Expect even more new faces before the start of spring training.