Alert Pujols and his new contract could set a new standard in baseball. The new contract for Albert Pujols and the St. Louis Cardinals has been talked about for a couple of years now, with everyone assuming that the Cardinals were going to have to break the bank in order to get Pujols to sign an extension. With the recent contract extension that the Philadelphia Phillies gave first baseman Ryan Howard, it raised the stakes regarding what Pujols might be able to get on his own. Starting in 2012, Ryan Howard will be bumped up to $25 million per season, setting a new standard for first baseman salaries that could be just the jumping-off point to where the Cardinals will have to take Albert Pujols.
Albert Pujols is making about $14.6 million this season with the St. Louis Cardinals, an extraordinary amount for most people, but it doesn’t even put him in the Top 25 for players in 2010. Right now the highest paid player in Major League Baseball is Alex Rodriguez, who makes $33 million in 2010 for the New York Yankees. In fact, the four highest paid players in baseball all play for the Yankees, with CC Sabathia making about $24 million, Derek Jeter is making $22.6 million, and Mark Teixeira making $20.6 million. In comparison, Albert Pujols isn’t in their tax bracket, but he is considered by many to be the best player in baseball.
During the 2009 season with the St. Louis Cardinals, Albert Pujols hit 47 home runs, drove in 135 runs, and hit for a .327 batting average. It won him the National League MVP, and netted yet another impressive season in Major League Baseball. Putting his stats in perspective since the 2001 season, the worst season for Albert Pujols in those statistical categories was 32 home runs, 103 RBI, and a .314 batting average. Those statistics right there would be All-Star numbers in either league, and that is the worst that Pujols has ever had in each statistical category. We are talking about a player with a career batting average of .334 and a career on base percentage of .427. He is a threat to get on base every time he comes to bat, and opposing teams know this all too well.
The ultimate question is going to become what salary would be fair for Albert Pujols to be paid. He is valuable both on offense and defense, he has been consistent at the plate his entire career, and he is the heart of the St. Louis Cardinals right now. The Cardinals have been painted into a corner with his upcoming contract negotiations, and with Ryan Howard making $25 million per season now; it only stands to reason that Pujols has to make more than him. They play the same position and Pujols is better on both offense and defense, so it means he deserves to be paid more. Yes, we are talking about numbers that are all probably too much for people to be paid to play a game, but that is the standard by which we have to measure.
Will the St. Louis Cardinals make Albert Pujols the first player to make $35 million per season? It sounds like the logical answer on the scale of MLB salaries we are looking at right now, but what happens when the next player comes along that plays a tougher position than first base and out-hits Albert Pujols? Will a player be making $50 million in the near future? It sure seems like we are getting close to that day.