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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOX) – ‘Cardinal Nation’ will have to get use to the fact that Albert Pujols will no longer wear the ‘birds on the bat’ as the former Redbird’s slugger has made a decision to sign with the Los Angeles Angels. Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports was the first to break the news just before 9:00am (CT). Minutes later, multiple reporters from the Baseball Winter Meetings in Dallas, Texas made the confirmation that Pujols had made a decision to make the move to the American League West Division club.
Multiple reports indicate that Pujols will get a 10-year, $250 million deal with the Angels. When confirmed, Pujols will match St. Louis native Ryan Howard as the highest paid first baseman per season, which also is the highest annual salary for that position in Major League history.
Los Angeles was the first supposed ‘mystery team’ to enter the Pujols sweepstakes on Tuesday night. On Wednesday, the Angels had more meetings with Pujols’ agent Dan Lozano, and look to become the biggest challenger to the Cardinals after the Miami Marlins were no longer involved.
The Los Angeles Angels finished 2011 with a 86-76 record, which was good enough for second place in the AL West Division behind the Texas Rangers. They had AL Rookie of the Year runner-up Mark Trumbo at first base for 149 games last season, but he is capable of playing one of the corner outfield positions where they had outfielders Vernon Wells and Torry Hunter stationed.
Looking at the Angels’ payroll situation, they already have $97 million committed for the 2012 season according to their franchise page on Baseball-Reference.com. Last season, they spent $142.7 million. If the Angels are paying Pujols somewhere in the range of $25 million for next season, their salary committed figure jumps up to $122 million.
Albert Pujols leaves the Cardinals franchise after 11 seasons. In St. Louis, Pujols quickly developed his eventual Hall of Fame career by winning three NL MVP awards and two World Championships. He became the first player to hit 30 home runs and have 100 RBI’s in his first ten seasons in the Major Leagues. On August 26, 2010, Pujols was the first player in Major League history to hit 400 home runs in their first 10 seasons. On October 15 in Game 3 of the World Series, Pujols became the third player along with Reggie Jackson and Babe Ruth to slug three home runs in one game of the Fall Classic.
Not only was Pujols fantastic at the plate, but became an excellent first baseman winning two Gold Gloves in 2006 and 2010. Though he did not win another in 2009, Pujols set a new Major League record for assists by a first baseman with his 185th on October 4, 2009 breaking the old record held by Bill Buckner, who had 184 assists for the Boston Red Sox in 1985.
The accomplishments listed were only a part of what Pujols meant to the St. Louis community. In 2005, Albert and his wife Deidre Pujols launched the Pujols Family Foundation, a non-profit charity organization. They promote awareness of Down syndrome and works to support those who have it and their families, aids the poor in the Dominican Republic, and supports people with disabilities plus life threatening illnesses.
The Cardinals had already planned for not having Pujols on the roster for 2012 and beyond. They signed Lance Berkman, the 2010 NL Comeback Player of the Year, who did play 21 games at first base last season. Berkman was mostly in right field where most believe Allen Craig will take over after his successful season as a bench player. Craig recently had surgery on his knee, and is expected to need four months to recover.
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