Major league executives and agents are shuffling out of the swanky Hilton Anatole this afternoon, the winter meetings have come to a close.
And what a finish it was.
The Angels decided to do some late souvenir shopping before heading back west. Early this morning, they added massive huge contracts to their books — a 10-year, $250 millionish deal for slugger Albert Pujols, and a five-year, $77.5 million contract for left-handed starter C.J. Wilson.
I will say this about the Angels: They’re a tremendous franchise with a big and loyal fan base. The Angels’ branding is impressive. I was at their ballpark this summer, and didn’t notice a single fan not sporting some shade of red. No doubt, bright-red Pujols and Wilson t-shirts will be huge sellers this holiday season. And the team is an immediate threat to win a title, especially with that dynamite pitching staff.
But both moves — the Wilson one expected, the Pujols one a stunner — carry huge long-term risks.
Pujols is a star, obviously. He’s always an MVP candidate. But he is coming off the worst year of his career, statistcally, yet got a contract that will pay him until he’s 42. Allegedly. There have been rumblings for quite some time that he’s older than his official age listing, which is 31. I was hearing such talk during a trip to St. Louis in May. If true, there’s a chance he won’t even be playing the final years of this contract. Just like Alex Rodriguez might not be on the field by the end of his insane deal, which runs through 2017.
Wilson, meanwhile, is 31, too. (No dispute there.) And yet he’s been a starter in the majors for just two seasons. That’s not much of a sample size for such a whopping deal, and that’s probably one reason the Rangers didn’t make a spirited push to keep him. Texas has been to back-to-back World Series and drawn 5.5 million fans the last two seasons, so there’s cash in the bank. But if anyone knows pitching, it’s Nolan Ryan. And he said no thanks to Wilson, even though that meant he was off to an AL West rival.
Interestingly, according to several reports, both deals were for less money than the Marlins offered them. Pujols’ offer from the Marlins was pulled after they signed Mark Buehrle, when it seemed like Pujols was heading back to the Cardinals. The Marlins still had an offer on the table for Wilson after Buehrle signed.
Miami execs still leave Dallas with closer Heath Bell, shortstop Jose Reyes, Buehrle — and somehow enough money to do more. (Perhaps to start a bidding war with the Tigers for Yoenis Cespedes.)
The Tigers, meanwhile, are leaving with a new reliever, veteran Octavio Dotel. They’ve made several solid moves this offseason, including bringing back second baseman Ramon Santiago and Gerald Laird. None were earth-shattering additions, but they didn’t need those. They’re a ballclub that won 95 games last season, a division championship and a postseason series — and is returning its entire nucleus.
If they’re done for the winter, they’re still the clear favorites to win the American League Central again.
But it was the Marlins and Angels show here at the winter meetings.
They provided the big news this week — with deals that might be pay big dividends now or be big problems down the road, or both.