According to Joe Strauss, Albert Pujols‘s agent Dan Lozano last summer proposed a 10-year, $300 million framework for the Cardinal first baseman’s contract extension. As Strauss notes, “Such a deal would eclipse New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez‘s 10-year, $275 million contract signed three years ago as the game’s richest.” Many other observers have linked A-Rod’s contract in discussing Pujols’s value and possible demands.
But is a strategy to compare a new contract to Rodriguez’s wise? The reality is that if anyone attempts to compare Pujols to Rodriguez, the comparison doesn’t reflect well on Pujols. That’s because Rodriguez, being essentially four seasons ahead of Pujols by the time his theoretical extension begins, has provided real data with which to gauge Pujols’s possible next four years. And it doesn’t say “$27.5-million player,” not to mention $30 million. Using Fangraphs.com’s fan projection for Pujols, which estimates that the Cardinal slugger will produce a value of $33.4 million in 2011, his age-31 season, and the actual rate at which Rodriguez has declined, here’s how Pujols stacks up against the player whose contract he’s looking to match (projected/estimated seasons are represented by the dashed line):
If the fans’ projection is accurate and if Pujols declines at the same rate as Rodriguez did from age 31 through 34 — performing at about 75% of each previous season’s value — Pujols won’t produce even $25 million in a season, let alone average that much over the life of the contract.
Granted, the comparison with Rodriguez overlooks some important variables, such as Rodriguez’s known (vs. Pujols’s unknown) use of PEDs and the hip injury that caused him to miss significant time in 2009. But if Pujols is looking to associate himself with A-Rod as he negotiates his next contract, the Cardinals may appreciate the unintended assistance.