The nitty-gritty details of Albert Pujols' new $240 million contract with the Los Angeles Angels were released on Thursday and let's just say that it's good to be considered Phat.
Over the next 10 years, the backloaded contract will give the first baseman an annual salary ranging from $12 million in 2012 to $30 million in 2021. He'll receive a hotel suite for all road trips, four seats to every home game at Angel Stadium and a luxury suite for his charitable foundation on 10 different dates a year. He'll also donate $100,000 each year to the team's charity and will receive $1 million annually for the 10 years after he retires as part of a personal services contract that he has the option to decline.
Not everything is guaranteed, though. There are $10 million worth of incentives in the contract, including $3 million for his 3,000th hit (he's currently at 2,073) and $7 million for career homer No. 763, which would propel him past Barry Bonds on the all-time list.
Pujols currently has 445 homers and what's interesting is that Alex Rodriguez could actually own the record by then. The $275 million deal that A-Rod signed with the New York Yankees in 2007 contains four separate bonuses of $6 million for tying Willie Mays, Babe Ruth, Henry Aaron and Bonds on the all-time career homer list and another $6 million for becoming the all-time home run king. A-Rod, whose career began eight years before Pujols' did, has hit 629 career home runs heading into the 2012 season.
What's also interesting is that in today's stats-first culture in baseball, these incentives get reported without any controversy at all. That's as it should be, considering that baseball is the most "individual" of team sports and it's to the team's benefit for the player to compile as many positive stats as possible. (Though I suppose it's possible to make an argument that home run incentives could be detrimental to a team if the player is trying to swing for the fences during every at-bat.)
As players like Frank Thomas and Tony Gwynn can tell you, such absolution when it comes to a focus on stats compilation hasn't always been granted from the ballwriters (or in the case of Gwynn, from Mike Pagliarulo). The good news for the pocketbooks of today's players, however, is that not only is a push toward huge career totals encouraged by their teams, it's compensated in rather handsome fashion.
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