Saturday, December 10, 2011


Obviously, I'm excited about the Angels again. Albert Pujols is a fantastic player, and his constipated batting stance has generated prodigious offense throughout his time in the league. There is little debate about his current status as an elite first baseman.

I've long railed against long term contracts for athletes. It doesn't make sense, financially or otherwise, to devote a large proportion of a limited resource to a single entity. Baseball, in particular, deemphasizes individuals and thus limits the value one can reasonably obtain from a single player. A quick trip to Fangraphs illustrates the obvious disparity between value and salary for most players under expensive, long term contracts.

Unfortunately, I can only think of a single modern case where an expensive, stupid contract has succeeded in hamstringing a franchise, and that case is Alex Rodriguez with Texas. And I don't think it's likely to happen again.

Pujols will be paid 25 million dollars a year for a decade. The last year of his contract, he'll be 42 and undoubtedly a mediocre, below replacement-level player. He'll still be responsible for 25 million dollars on the Angels payroll. I just don't think it matters.

The 2010 average salary for MLB players was, heavily rounded, $3.5 million. Inflation has been increasing by roughly 3% annually since 1913, but let's say the economy remains relatively weak and we see 2% inflation through the life of the Pujols contract. Assuming no increase in average player salaries outside inflation (yeah right), the average salary will be $4.25 million and the $25 million owed to Pujols will only represent roughly 80% of the cost it bears today.

Is it a huge discount? No. But considering the additional benefits Pujols brings to the franchise in increased ticket, merchandise, and in-stadium sales, plus the newly negotiated TV contract, I don't really believe it would be reasonable for the Angels to limit their spending based on this single contract. It just doesn't happen.

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