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Angels' big day brings Pujols, then Wilson

Associated Press / December 9, 2011
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Albert Pujols could have been a wealthy Cardinal for life.

Instead, exactly six weeks after leading St. Louis to the title in one of the most thrilling World Series ever, he decided to accept the second-highest contract in baseball history for a new future in southern California with the Los Angeles Angels.

The three-time National League MVP agreed yesterday to a $254 million, 10-year contract with the Angels, leaving behind a heartbroken fan base by jilting one of the sport’s traditional teams for a franchise with only one championship in its half-century.

As his deal fell into place on the final day of the winter meetings in Dallas, the Angels struck another big agreement, a $77.5 million, five-year contract with lefthander C.J. Wilson, former ace of the Angels’ AL West rival in Texas.

“This is a monumental day for Angel fans and I could not be more excited,’’ said owner Arte Moreno, who bought the team for $184 million from The Walt Disney Co. in 2003, a year after its only title.

Pujols rejected a multiyear extension from St. Louis last offseason that was said to include a small percentage of the franchise, and cut off negotiations a day before he arrived at spring training.

While in Dallas, the Cardinals and Marlins offered the slugger deals that were for 10 years and in excess of $200 million.

“I would like our fans to know that we tried our best to make Albert a lifetime Cardinal,’’ St. Louis chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. said in a statement.

Pujols’s contract, which like Wilson’s is subject to a physical, is 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 agreement with the Yankees before the 2008 season.

Pujols, a nine-time All-Star, has a room full of honors, winning the 2001 NL Rookie of the Year award, NL MVPs in 2005, 2008, and 2009, a batting title in 2003, and a pair of Gold Gloves at first base. He is the only player to hit at least 30 home runs in each of his first 11 seasons.

Pujols’s numbers in nearly every major offensive category are on a three-year decline. He had his poorest season in 2011 with a .299 average, 37 homers, and 99 RBIs.

“We understand that players will go through peaks and valleys of sort,’’ Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto said. “Albert has spent many years operating at peak, and if we want to call a decline going from superhuman to just great, I don’t think we’ve seen the last great days of Albert Pujols, obviously, or we wouldn’t be sitting here today.’’

Wilson was 16-7 with a 2.94 ERA with Texas last season. Now, the 31-year-old lefty is joining the team that finished 10 games behind the Rangers.

“C.J. Wilson has been one of the premier starting pitchers in the American League over the last few years,’’ Dipoto said.

Brewers get their shortstop

The Brewers agreed to terms with shortstop Alex Gonzalez, filling one of their biggest needs. The deal is for one year with a vesting option. Financial terms weren’t released. Gonzalez, 34, hit .241 with 15 home runs and 56 RBIs and committed just 12 errors for the Braves last season in 149 games. Milwaukee will be his sixth team . . . The Dodgers filled out their projected rotation for next season by signing Aaron Harang to a two-year, $12 million contract. Harang was 14-7 with a 3.64 ERA for the Padres last season. The Dodgers also traded lefthander Dana Eveland to the Orioles for a pair of minor leaguers . . . The Phillies signed outfielder Laynce Nix to a $2.5 million, two-year contract. Nix batted .250 with a career-high 16 home runs and 44 RBIs in 124 games for the Nationals last season . . . The Cubs acquired third baseman Ian Stewart and righthanded reliever Casey Weathers from the Rockies for outfielder Tyler Colvin and infielder D.J. LeMahieu . . . The Phillies signed outfielder Laynce Nix to a two-year contract. Nix had a career-high 16 home runs in 124 games for the Nationals last season . . . The Rangers acquired minor league infielder Greg Miclat from Baltimore to complete an earlier trade that sent catcher Taylor Teagarden to the Orioles . . . The Rockies sent righthander Daniel Turpen to the Twins to complete an earlier trade for righthander Kevin Slowey . . . A bankruptcy judge in Wilmington, Del., said he will approve a process for the Dodgers to sell the media rights to future games as part of the team’s plan to exit bankruptcy. The plan calls for the Dodgers to receive initial bids by Jan. 13 and complete the sale by April 30. Fox Sports objected to the proposed sale, saying it would violate its rights under an existing contract with the Dodgers.

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