Conan Nolan, Dennis Lahti
Albert Pujols, a free agent first baseman, signed a 10-year, $254 million contract with the Angels.
The Los Angeles Angels swooped in to win the Albert Pujols sweepstakes with a quarter-billion dollar offer the superstar slugger just could not refuse.
With his old team the St. Louis Cardinals and the Florida Marlins engaged in a bidding war for the first baseman's services, the Angels appear to have blown everyone out of the water with a 10-year offer that may be as much as $260 million.
Pujols led his team to a World Series title this past season, but his longtime manager, Tony LaRussa, announced his retirement and Pujols previous contract expired. At the beginning of the season, the Cardinals exercised a $16 million option, which allowed them to keep their star at a below-market rate for the season. But Pujols rejected a multiyear extension and broke off talks during the season.
The Angels' rookie general manager Jerry Dipoto pulled off the deal, but with Pujols set to turn 32 in January, the deal may last longer than his days as a productive player. He's actually coming off the worst season in his illustrious 11-year career, having failed to bat .300 or drive in 100 runs for the first time.
A sure Hall of Famer, Pujols has a lifetime batting average of .328 with 445 home runs and 1,329 runs batted in. He's been the National League's Most Valuable Player three times.
ESPN reported that the Angels jumped into the bidding late Wednesday after speculation had it down to a two-team race to sign the star.
Sports Illustrated reported that the Angels had a big advantage in chasing Pujols, after signing a new TV deal that raised television revenues by $100 million per year.
Fans outside Angel Stadium on Thursday were stunned and excited to learn the Angels had signed the free agent.
"This can't be real. I'm still dreaming. I got to wake up," Angels fan Tim Hyde said.
"Angel friends, pumped up, excited -- some are here already purchasing tickets," Angels fan Richard Lopez said. "Dodger fans -- no one is picking up their phone."
When asked if Pujols would be worth his hefty price tag, one fan said, "We'll find out in 10 years."
"At the end of the day, my family was a big player in this and my friends and stuff back home," Wilson said. "Going back to where you're from is a difficult thing to turn down when you have an opportunity."
The free agent rounds out a staff that is poised to dominate the west next year. Angels ace Jered Weaver placed second in American League Cy Young last year, finishing 18-8, with 198 strikeouts and a 2.406 ERA.
Behind Weaver, is the slightly less yet still incredibly dominate Dan Haren, who finished 2011 with 16 wins, 192 Ks and an ERA of 3.172.