ALBERT PUJOLS DEAL BACKLOADED
Albert Pujols was on the receiving end of one of the most lucrative contracts in professional sports history when he agreed with the Los Angeles Angels on a 10-year deal for about $250 million earlier this month. But he also made some accommodations to help his new club land another prize catch this winter.
Pujols agreed to a backloaded deal -- taking significantly less money in the first two years -- to aid the Angels in their pursuit of free agent pitcher C.J. Wilson, baseball sources told ESPN.com.
Pujols will make a base salary of $12 million in 2012 and $16 million in 2013, said a source. His salary will gradually increase until it surpasses $30 million annually near the end of the deal.
By agreeing to take less money up front, Pujols helped the Angels sign Wilson, who reached agreement on a five-year, $77.5 million deal three weeks ago. Wilson, who went 16-7 with a 2.94 ERA and finished sixth in the American League Cy Young Award balloting, will combine with Jered Weaver, Dan Haren and Ervin Santana to give Los Angeles one of baseball's most formidable starting rotations.
Sources said Pujols' deal could peak at about $265 million if he attains some reachable award bonuses and milestone incentives. A source confirmed a recent Yahoo! Sports report that Pujols will receive $3 million from the Angels for his 3,000th hit and $7 million if he breaks Barry Bonds' career record of 762 home runs.
Pujols, a nine-time All-Star and three-time MVP with the St. Louis Cardinals, will enter this season with 2,073 career hits and 445 home runs.
The language in Pujols' contract has taken longer than usual to finalize, according to a source, because the deal includes a personal services contract with the Angels once his playing days are done.
The Cardinals recovered from the initial shock of losing Pujols by signing shortstop Rafael Furcal and outfielder Carlos Beltran to two-year deals. Former Milwaukee first baseman Prince Fielder, who ranked with Pujols as one of the two elite players on the free agent market this winter, is still unsigned.
Jerry Crasnick is a senior writer for ESPN.com
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