As fans of professional sports, and as “ordinary” people, we sometimes are amazed at the astronomical salaries professional athletes command. Whether or not an athlete deserves the salary, in many cases, is a matter of opinion. The question here is, does Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals deserve $30 million in annual salary?
Pujols is, without a doubt, the most potent offensive player in Major League Baseball. He will enter Cooperstown on the first ballot. He is also only 31 years old. I believe he has 7 to 8 years left. 5 of which will most likely be record-breaking. However, does he deserve a 10-year, $300 million dollar contract? My answer simply is no.
The best example to support my position is Alex Rodriguez of my beloved Yankees. A-Rod set the pace for exuberant baseball salaries. However, in recent years his production is declining. The revelation of his performance enhancing substance use tainted A-Rod and forever will. However, his currently salary is $33 million a year. In my opinion, his productivity is not worth the salary. Secondly, such a salary handicaps the Yankees whose new owners, Hank and Hal Steinbrenner are not the freewheeling, spend-whatever-it-takes owners their late father was.
The Cardinals, and rightfully so, should avoid placing themselves in the same position with Pujols. I respect a player who worked all his life to exploit his own talent to achieve the level of performance that Pujols has. However, baseball is about the team. The team needs to keep itself in a position to win. I do not believe the Cardinals would be able to to do that while carrying such a high salary for one player.
What if Pujols got injured significantly? I site Ken Griffey Jr. What if Pujols salary was so high it limited the ability of the club to build around him? I propose a 6 year deal for Pujols with a club option for 2 years. At that point, the team can reevaluate his abilities while evaluating its ability to compensate him appropriately.
I am by no means a Pujols hater. I think he is great for the game. However, I am also a realist having witnessed A-Rod, Kevin Brown, Jason Giambi, the list goes on. The Cardinals need to do what is ultimately best for the team. I do not believe locking up Albert Pujols into a long term, expensive salary will benefit St. Louis.
Agree? Disagree? Let me know what you think!
Player statistics and salary information from espn.go.com.