Possible Pujols Contract Compromise?–Just “Throwing” It Out There
(A concerned bystander’s attempt to offer a creative option)
As the silence grows deafening, and the “deadline” looms, consider this my effort to offer both sides something that, if not quite to their tastes, is at least creative and in the spirit of compromise.
The Pujols’ camp line:
Though the negotiations remain quiet, it has been suggested in many quarters that Pujols and agent had at least started with a 10 yr, 30 mill per request.
The Cardinals camp line:
Unclear and unknown, other than balking at both length and amount of Pujols’ request, and claims that “they will only consider paying for potential future production (my best guess? 7 yrs, 25 per–after all, couldn’t even consider signing Pujols for fewer years than Holladay, or less per annum than Ryan Howard, right? Fans would crucify Cards for anything less)
Now, for the fun stuff…
A Very Creative Compromise (and the logic behind)
Okay, first: renegotiate the last year of Pujols’ current contract, already! The best player in baseball isn’t even the highest paid player on his own team, for Pete’s sake?!? Even if he says nothing, that’s gotta rankle Albert just a bit, doncha think? Building that into the new contract could only help ease any feelings of disrespect Albert may be incurring.Now, of course, I realize there isn’t a ton of space in the current budget this year, but surely they could find 2 mill to jump Albert to 18 mill and over Matt’s 17 mill.
In addition, they are able to creep closer to Albert’s request for 10yrs without actually adding time to a 7 yr offer–just adding in the current year to increase the overall length of the new contract to 8 years, and I’ve only started.
OK, the Cards are concerned to paying appropriately for potential future production? Then, surely, a player over 30 would be most likely to be most productive in the early part of the contract, so…man up and design the contract as such, instead of these backloaded deals. Hey, the Cards set the perameters with their statement–I’m just taking them at their word. So, make Albert the highest paid player in baseball: For the next 3 years pay him 27.3333 mill a year (plus, say, a mill if he’s voted MVP–and lets add that incentive on to the first year, too–after all, if he wins MVP in a year, he clearly earned his money).
So, four years down, four to go: follow up with 25 mill per year for the next four years (which is really only what the Cards base offer for those years should be anyway). But, increase the bonus to 2.5 mill in any year Pujols is voted MVP–or, if he finishes first in RBIs, Homers, batting average, or OPS+slugging, or if he finishes in the top 5 in any two of the categories. If Pujols continues to produce at a pace expected of the “best player in baseball,” he will continue to make over 27 million (27.5, to be exact), the highest salary. And, if he produces like that, how can the Cards complain that they are overpaying?
Now, finally–why not add on the extra 2 years Pujols is asking for–but at a base salary of, say, 5 mill, with SERIOUS bonus incentives, like 10 mill for winning the MVP (5 mill for finishing in top 5 voting), and 5 mill EACH for finishing in top five in RBIs, BA, HRs, OPS/SLUG?). If Pujols is still producing at that time (which, given his demands, he seems to think he will be, he could make 35 mill each of those years, while the Cardinals are only out 5 mill each year if he’s not producing (which they were willing to give Jim Edmonds a couple of years ago at the end of his contract, so why not Pujols?).
So, where does this all leave us? Well to summarize and streamline my contract compromise suggestion, a quick year-by-year overview
YEAR 1: A renegotiation of current year salary, raising it to 18 mill, and making Pujols the highest paid player on his own team (about time!)
YEAR 2: A base salary of 27.3333 million, with MVP champ bonus incentive worth another million
YEAR 3: A base salary of 27.3333 million, with MVP champ bonus incentive worth another million
YEAR 4: A base salary of 27.3333 million, with MVP champ bonus incentive worth another million
YEAR 5: A base salary of 25 million, with a 2.5 million bonus kicking in if Pujols wins MVP, or finishes first in any major offensive category, OR in the top five of any TWO categories (potential: 27.5 million)
YEAR 6: Ditto
YEAR 7: Ditto
YEAR 8: Ditto
YEAR 9: A base salary of 5 million, LOADED with incentives, such as 10 mill for MVP or 5 mill for finishing in top 5 in voting, plus 5 million EACH for finishing in the top five in RBIs, HRs, BA, or OPS+SLUG (for a potential 35 million)
YEAR 10: Same as YEAR 9 (potential 35 million)
You will note that, if Pujols continues at his current production pace, he should be the highest paid player in the league, at over 27 million a year, from YEAR 2 through YEAR 8 (he WILL be the highest paid in years 2-4, on guaranteed money alone, and the incentives in years 5-8 are nothing he hasn’t accompished one way or another in most of his previous seasons).
Now YEARS 9 and 10 may seem a bit outrageous with the potential for $30 million in incentives, versus on $5 million in guarateed money, but, after all, this is supposed to be a COMPROMISE offer. I can’t imagine the Cards would balk at offering that much in potential incentives, because, well, I’m pretty sure they don’t believe Pujols will be producing like that in 9 or 10 years. On the other hand, if Pujols believes he can, and actually does, it will be a giant payday for him. (And, will the Cards be upset if he actually makes the bonuses? That would simply mean they still have a fantastic player under contract).
The overall contract is, technically, 10 years–meeting one of Pujols’ requests, and should make him a Cardinal for life, which should make everyone happy. However, the Cardinals are really only guaranteeing BIG money for 7 additional years beyond his current contract (years 2-8).
The guaranteed money over the life of the contract is 210 million, which is way less than Pujols request for 300 million over the 10 years–however, with incentives acheived, it could reach 284 million, a very respectable number for his agent to come out of the negotiations with (I’d certainly sign), and not too far off 300.
Now, 210 million is also significantly more than my guess of the Cards starting point of 7 years, 175 million, but, remember, the first year is really simply a 2 million dollar raise this year, bring the actual additional guaranteed costs of a new contract down to 194 million, which is much closer to the Cardinals starting point than the Pujols’ camp’s starting point in the negotiations. True, the Cardinals could be on the hook for a boatload of money in incentives if Pujols maintains his current production throughout the life of the contract, but if the club does end up paying all the incentives, they should be rejoicing instead of complaining because: 1) that means Pujols lived up to the contract and his skills did not deteriorate, and 2) the Cardinals will have had probably the greatest player ever to play the game on their team for his whole career, who will prabably have EVERY major offensive record, except steals, when he’s done.
This is a compromise that I could live with as a fan, and, if the Cards actually offered this deal to Pujols and he rejected it, then I would not blame the team for letting him test free agency. If someone will give him a significantly better deal, and the money is that important to him, he should take it. If it’s more about respect, and his expectation that, as the best player, he should be paid the most, I think this contract accomplishes that goal for several years (though my knowledge of professional sports contracts is, admittedly, limited, and perhaps I amvery naive about these processes).
And those, my friends, are my very detailed thoughts on the subject.
John P. Carey
*I just want to thank John P. Carey for contributing his article to the McBrayer-Baseball Blog.