The Angels this morning have come to terms with free agent 1B Albert Pujols on a 10-year, $254M contract, the second-largest contract in MLB history. It is behind only the 10-year, $275M deal Alex Rodriguez signed with the Yankees in '07 (Mult., 12/8). In St. Louis, Joe Strauss reports the Angels "officially entered the fray on Pujols on Wednesday after the Miami Marlins were eliminated." After "several club officials denied the Angels' involvement in talks for Pujols on Tuesday, a franchise infamous for its inability to land elite free agents stepped forward with a more generous guarantee than the Cardinals." A source said that the Cardinals' "modified proposal was believed to be worth a potential $220 million for up to 10 years; however, only nine years are guaranteed" (STLTODAY.com, 12/8). The Angels deal "includes a full no-trade clause and could reach $260 million" (MLB.com, 12/8). MLB Network’s Chris Rose said, “For the last few years, we’ve heard Arte Moreno say, ‘Boy, 10-year deals, $250 million deals -- there’s no way we can play with that.’ Where did he come up with this?” Verducci said the signing is a “game-changer for the Angels.” Verducci: "Two straight years without playoffs and Arte Moreno had enough of that” (MLB Network, 12/8). Yahoo Sports' Tim Brown, who broke the story, said, "This is something that the Angels can absorb. They have a new TV deal coming, this is an organization that expects to win, that is feeling badly and angry about missing the playoffs two years in a row. Arte Moreno has missed out on free agents recently -- Teixeira and Crawford and Beltre -- and you knew when they jumped in, they jumped in to win because they were not going to finish second again” ("The Dan Patrick Show," 12/8).
NEW TV DEAL KEY: SI.com's Jon Heyman notes the Angels' new TV deal "is the key, insiders say." The team "may get $150M" per year, compared to having "been getting only $50M" (TWITTER.com, 12/8). Reports surfaced in October as part of the Dodgers' bankruptcy case that the Angels were close to a new TV deal (THE DAILY). ESPN's Buster Olney said there is a "concern within baseball circles" about the impact massive local TV deals are having on teams' spending. Olney: "As we were leading up to the labor agreement, I was hearing more and more from executives with small-market teams and they were looking at deals like the Rangers just got and the Angels now have in place and other teams and they were saying, ‘That’s what’s going to really fuel the disparity increasingly going forward’” ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 12/8).
WILSON ALSO HEADING TO ANAHEIM: The Angels today also signed free agent P C.J. Wilson to a five-year, $77.5M contract, and ESPN's Olney said the deals "will put them into that Red Sox-Yankees neighborhood" of around $170M for payroll in '12 ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 12/8). The L.A. Times' Bill Shaikin noted the Angels "won World Series in 2002 with $62 million payroll." Pujols, RF Vernon Wells and CF Torii Hunter "might make that much all by themselves next year" (TWITTER.com, 12/8).
TAKING ADVANTAGE OF THE DODGERS' DECLINE: FOXSPORTS.com's Ken Rosenthal writes the Angels' "spending spree makes sense" in part because they will "face renewed competition in greater Los Angeles once the Dodgers are sold." Rosenthal: "The Dodgers, under Frank McCourt, are not currently in position to sign a Pujols or even a Wilson. It would behoove the Angels to press their competitive advantage while they still have it" (FOXSPORTS.com, 12/8). SI’s Tom Verducci said of Moreno wanting the Angels to take over the L.A. market, "Clearly it has been a part of his plan for years since he bought the team in ’03. ... Now the Dodgers in the last couple of years with some of their financial issues have forfeited a lot of the ground in Los Angeles to the Angels” (“Intentional Talk,” MLB Network, 12/8). MLB Network's Harold Reynolds said Moreno “is reaching into L.A. and going, ‘I know that franchise (the Dodgers) is fractured, but I have the guy that everybody wants to see.’ When the Cardinals went to L.A., who drove out to see him in Dodger Stadium? Everybody went to see him. They are saying now, ‘Bring Albert here.’ He’s a gate attraction, he’s a tremendous player and this is all part of the plan" ("Hot Stove," MLB Network, 12/8). ESPN's Olney said execs on other MLB teams "have looked at this situation developing, and in these last few years when the Dodgers franchise has been in erosion the feeling around baseball is, ‘Boy, the Angels aren’t really exploiting this as much as they possibly could.’" He said Moreno could look at the Dodgers and the "possibility that someone like a Magic Johnson could come riding in on a white horse and turn that franchise around and he feels like, ‘You know what, I better strike.’” ESPN’s Karl Ravech: "The Dodgers appear on the verge of eventually getting a huge owner with big money, whether it be the Magic Johnson-led group or others. They get Matt Kemp for a long time, they have Clayton Kershaw. Now you've got a Weaver-Pujols, Kershaw-Kemp thing going out there” (“SportsCenter,” ESPN, 12/8). The Buffalo News' Mike Harrington wrote, "Holy checkbook, Angels! Dodgers just got a whole lot more irrelevant in LA" (TWITTER.com, 12/8).