Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com reported yesterday that Albert Pujols’ 10-year contract with the Angels is extremely backloaded, including salaries of $12 million in 2012 and $16 million in 2013 and jumping to $30 million at its conclusion. Now Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com has some more details.
According to Heyman’s sources, Pujols is actually guaranteed $250 million from the Angels, not the $254 million sum that has been widely reported. This includes $10 million in “personal services” obligations to the Angels’ organization following his retirement, so he’ll be paid a total of $240 million from 2012-2021. It’s not clear whether the personal services contract will be counted toward the luxury tax.
Here’s the breakdown by year:
2012: $12 million
2013: $16 million
2014: $23 million
2015: $24 million
2016: $25 million
2017: $26 million
2018: $27 million
2019: $28 million
2020: $29 million
2021: $30 million
Per a report by Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports earlier this month, Pujols will get an additional $3 million from the Angels if he reaches 3,000 hits and $7 million if he tops Barry Bonds’ all-time record of 762 career home runs. While Heyman has the deal potentially topping out at $260 million, Crasnick reported yesterday that he could earn $265 million with additional incentives.
In Major League Baseball, players are routinely pressured to play through injury and pain. Sometimes it’s just a minor ache, and sometimes it’s a very serious injury. The pressure comes from everywhere: the players themselves, their peers, coaches, front offices, media, and fans. Players who develop a reputation for landing on the disabled list are described as “soft” and “fragile.” Players who battle through the pain get talked about as “gritty” and “dedicated.”
Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the Cardinals are trying to encourage their players to be more honest about their health. The culture surrounding this is tough to change, but manager Mike Matheny wants his players to come to him if “anything that is off.” As Goold notes, Alex Reyes and Matt Bowman revealed they were, in Bowman’s words, not “entirely forthcoming.” Carlos Martinez said he pitched tentatively because he was “scared” of re-injuring himself. Matheny also called pitcher Michael Wacha “a great liar” when talking about his arm health.
Matt Carpenter has also played through injury and takes pride in it. He’s an example of the old mentality the club is trying to pierce through. Caarpenter said, “I’m a believer in if you’re getting paid to do a job and you’re capable of doing the job — even if it’s 85 percent of your best — I feel you have the obligation to be out there. That is the mentality I’ve always used. I could have very easily, at times last year, sat on the [disabled list], but I felt like I could still go out and do my job.”
Goold points out that players approach dealing with health issues differently depending on where they’re at in their careers. A young player who just got called up has pressure to stay in the big leagues and appear in games, so he may not want to address a health issue. A player who has already secured a multi-year contract may have less pressure on him and thus may be more willing to come to the trainer’s room.
I’ve long believed that player health will be the next arena in which front offices will separate themselves from the pack. Analytics had been that battleground for a while, but with every club now having an analytics department in some capacity, front offices will have to find value in new ways. Limiting the amount of time that players miss due to injury would be a significant boost for a team and it will start with players being forthcoming about what’s bothering them rather than trying to fight through pain.