If you read only baseball news and weren't aware of any economic events around you, you would think the economy is booming! Is "baseball money" different currency than the money you and I use?
After Jayson Werth signed his 7 year $126 million contract with the Nationals (Check out Werth and his agent Scott Boras laughing about it), I started to think, "my god, if Werth got $18 million for 7 years, what is Cliff Lee going to get? Published reports have Lee being offered in the $20 million, 7 year range by both the Rangers and the Yankees and there are some reporting that the Washington Nationals are also trying to get their foot in the Cliff Lee door. Yes that's right, that' snot a type-o; although there are conflicting reports, more than one creditable source is reporting that the Nationals, after committing all that money to Werth, are trying to compete with the Rangers and Yankees in bidding for Cliff Lee's services.
$17 million per year for three years plus some possible fourth year money was just committed to Derek Jeter who will be 37 years old in June. $14 million per year for four years went to Adam Dunn. There's "baseball money" flying all over the place!
Carl Crawford and Adrian Beltre haven't signed yet, and they are going to get some mega "baseball money." Paul Konerko who made $12 million last year isn't going to be taking a pay cut and is apparently willing call the Chicago White Sox bluff and threatening to leave as he wants $15 million per year and there seem to be other teams willing to give him his raise!
Here's one that will knock your Aunt Connie's socks off. The Chicago Cubs just gave Carlos Pena $10 million to play the 2011 season. Sure the guy sis a slick fielder, and when gets up there is a one in 20 chance that he hits a HR, but the guys hit .196 last year! It's not like he went 2 for 20 with a limited sample of data, Pena had 582 plate appearances? Is it really possible that a first basemen who hit .196 with 28 HR's, 84 RBI scoring only 64 runs just received a $10 million one year contract?
To put the "baseball money" insanity into perspective consider that fact that according to cbssportsline, there were 28 players who played significantly at first base who had better years than Pena. In order, Albert Pujols, Joey Votto, Miguel Cabrera, Paul Konerko, Adrian Gonzalez, Aburey Huff, Ryan Howard, Billy Butler, Mark Teixeira, Adam Dunn, Kevin Youkilis, Prince Fielder, Justin Morneau, Michael Cuddyer, Gaby Sanchez, Buster Posey, Adam LaRoche, James Loney, Ike Davis, Derrek Lee, Daric Barton, Garrett Jones, Carlos Lee, Mike Napoli, Ty Wiggington, Lyle Overbay, Russell Branyan, Melvin Mora.
All this leads to my conclusion that Albert Pujols will not settle for anything less than being the highest paid player in the sport (and nor should he.) Pujols will earn $16 million next season as the second highest-paid player on his own team. That's not going to continue......
Reading Bryan Burwell's St. Louis Post Dispatcharticle this morning sums up the situation pretty well.
"Fact: Sooner or later, someone is going to pay Albert Pujols an obscene amount of money to keep playing baseball at a Hall of Fame level. Maybe historic money, $28 million to $30 million a season, extended out until the next decade.
Uncomfortable probability: The Cardinals won't be the team that does it."
St. Louis Cardinals team Chairman Bill DeWitt's published conversation with Cardinals beat writer Joe Strauss on Tuesday at baseball's winter meetings in Florida speaks volumes.
"Every team has financial limitations," said Dewitt. "I don't care what team you name. They have them. It's a process where you have to evaluate the value of a player given the ability to still field an effective, competitive club. Those are always the tradeoffs. It's not 'I don't want to give you X dollars because you don't deserve it.' It's 'I've got so much money I can afford and have a competitive team.' And you've got to put all those pieces together."
Will Albert Pujols have to look elsewhere for his money? Unless the Cardinals are willing to give him the richest contract in the history of sports, it sure looks that way. A-Rod currently has the bogey at $275,000 million 10-years. What's Albert worth, $300,000 million for 10?
Check out the Free Agent Tracker updated daily to find out who is going where. - Mike Cardano
Mike is the founder of Around the Horn Baseball & Xtra Point Football.
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