Originally published 9:15 a.m.
This is a developing story. Check back for more updates.
Updated 9:59 a.m. to include information about deal possibly reaching $260 million.
Updated 11:54 a.m. to include comments from McNeal & announced deal amount.
Updated 12:16 p.m. with response of Cardinals organization
Updated 1:22 p.m. with comments from Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto
Updated 4:17 with comment from Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak
Three-time NL MVP Albert Pujols agreed Thursday to a $254 million, 10-year contract with the Los Angeles Angels.
Pujols' contract, which is subject to a physical, is the second-highest in baseball history and only the third to break the $200 million barrier, following Alex Rodriguez's $252 million, 10-year deal with Texas before the 2001 season and A-Rod's $275 million, 10-year contract with the Yankees before the 2008 season.
The Angels announced Thursday they were signing Pujols away from the St. Louis Cardinals, who he led to a World Series title this fall.
"I can't say that in my wildest dreams I thought I'd be sitting here today," said Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto. "A lot has to go into signing players and you always have to be prepared. I used the term, 'keep your peripheral vision clear.' You're going to have to adjust along the way. In this particular regard, I think we ended up in a situation where, once we get through these physicals, we're going to be in a very exciting position for the organization."
In addition to signing Pujols, the Angels also nabbed former Texas Rangers pitcher C.J. Wilson.
Dipoto shrugged off questions about the wisdom of signing a 31-year-old position player to a long-term deal that reportedly includes a no-trade clause.
"Albert is still as big an impact bat after 11 years as there is in the game, and we feel confident that that's what we're placing in the Angels lineup," he said. "The guy hits like he's 27."
Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak says that while it's a" disappointing feeling" that Pujols will not spend his entire career wearing the bats and the birds, he has no regrets about not matching the Angels' offer. The terms, he said, were too risky for the Cardinals financially.
"That's the most important part of all of this, maintaining a winning tradition that is steeped with a great history," Mozeliak said. "Any time you put one man ahead of that, that's when things start to go wrong."
Mozeliak says the decision not to sign Pujols gives the team a lot of flexibility, and the front office will be actively involved in the free agent market in the coming weeks. But he says it won't be to make "knee-jerk" purchases.
And he says Cardinal Nation shouldn't worry about the team's prospects next year, even after losing a big-name player.
"The only thing I can really compare it to is Adam Wainwright going down last February," Mozeliak said. "Most people, though we were going to have a very long year, and fortunately things worked out. Obviously it's easy to say that this is going to be a difficult hit to this organization, but I think really before we pass judgment, let's allow us to play a game."
Original Story with Updates and Commentary:
A person familiar with the negotiations says that three-time NL MVP Albert Pujols has agreed to a 10-year contract with the Los Angeles Angels.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity Thursday because the deal had not been announced.
Pujols, who led the St. Louis Cardinals to a World Series title this fall, had been pursued by the Miami Marlins, but they dropped out Wednesday after agreeing to a deal with Mark Buehrle.
ESPN, who first reported the Pujols deal, says that that the deal is worth $250 million, whereas a report on the St. Louis Cardinals' official site states that other sources say the deal could reach $260 million:
The deal, according to Jon Heyman of MLB Network and Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com, is for 10 years, includes a full no-trade clause and could reach $260 million.
Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak reportedly left the Dallas hotel where the winter meetings were being held without any comment.
Writer Stan McNeal of the Sporting News says the deal was about $30 to $40 million above the final offer from the Cardinals. It reportedly includes no opt-out provisions for either the Angels or for Pujols - so the 31-year-old slugger is likely to finish his career in California.
McNeal says Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt Jr. and Mozeliak made a smart business decision in not matching the Angels offer.
"I think Cardinals fans will be very disappointed for a few months, maybe even through next season or a couple of seasons, but in five years, history tells us that these mega contracts just don't play out in favor of the team," he said.
McNeal expects the Cardinals to use the money they saved to go after a shortstop like Jimmy Rollins (currently with the Philadelphia Phillies), or get some help at right field if Allen Craig doesn't recover from knee surgery as fast as expected.
He says the Angels were a late and surprising entrant into the Pujols bidding war.
"I was talking to their manager, Mike Scoscia, just two days ago and he was talking about how the club needed pitching more than offense," McNeal said. "My sense is that once the (Miami) Marlins kind of bowed out, the Angels kind of stepped in, and the Angels are a club that in the past few years have missed out on some of the top free agents," he said.
McNeal says the Cardinals walked away from the winter meetings empty-handed. But he says the Cardinals are still the favorite to win the National League's Central Division next season.
Cardinals Organization Responds
The St. Louis Cardinals have released their reactions to the deal on their official website:
St. Louis Cardinals Statements Regarding Albert Pujols
Cardinals Chairman and CEO Bill DeWitt, Jr.
“We are disappointed that we were unable to reach an agreement to keep Albert Pujols in St. Louis. Albert is a great champion and we will always be thankful for his many achievements in a Cardinals uniform, as well as his contributions to the St. Louis community. I have the highest regard for Albert both personally and professionally, and appreciate his direct involvement in this process. I would like our fans to know that we tried our best to make Albert a lifetime Cardinal but unfortunately we were unable to make it happen.”
Cardinals Sr. Vice President & General Manager John Mozeliak
“Albert has been a special player in this organization since the moment he was drafted over 12 years ago. His accomplishments on and off the field have been spectacular. I wish him well in the next phase of his career.”