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Albert Pujols has agreed to a 10-year contract with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim worth $254 million, according to reports. Pujols spent the first 11 years of his MLB career with the St. Louis Cardinals where he won three MVP awards and two World Series titles.
The deal is the second largest playing contract in the history of pro sports. The New York Yankees Alex Rodriguez had signed the two biggest deals in sports history worth $275 million in 2007 and $252 million in 2000.
Pujols joins A-Rod, Shaquille O'Neal and Michael Vick as the only athletes to ever sign two $100 million playing contracts (CC Sabathia technically has signed two also, but opted out of his first $100-plus million deal with the Yankees after only three years). The 10 largest deals in team sports were all signed by baseball players.
Baseball is unique in that it is the only U.S. sport that operates without a salary cap, allowing teams to pay up for star players. It helps to have the New York Yankees in the sport. They have doled out four contracts worth more than $160 million, including two in one month in December 2008.
The new deal will catapult Pujols onto our annual list of the world's highest-paid athletes for the first time. Pujols failed to make the cut in past years because of a below-value contract with the Cardinals that paid him "only" $14.5 million in 2011. Pujols' endorsement income is relatively small like most baseball players outside of Derek Jeter.
Pujols has a long way to go to catch the top earners in team sports including endorsement income. Kobe Bryant earned $53 million in the past year and LeBron James banked $48 million thanks to their hefty endorsements led by Nike.
Baseball's biggest contracts
1) Alex Rodriguez: $275 million (signed 2007)
2) Albert Pujols: $254 million (2011)
3) Alex Rodriguez: $252 million (2000)
4) Derek Jeter: $189 million (2001)
5) Joe Mauer: $184 million (2010)
6) Mark Teixeira: $180 million (2008)
7) CC Sabathia: $161 million (2008)
8) (tie) Manny Ramirez: $160 million (2000)
8) (tie) Matt Kemp: $160 million (2011)
10) Troy Tulowitzki: $158 million (2010)