Albert Pujols vs. Prince Fielder: Who Was the Better Signing?
Two superstar first basemen. Two mega-contracts. One offseason. Now that both Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder have signed, the question has been asked: Which team, the Los Angeles Angels or the Detroit Tigers, got a better deal?
ESPN's Buster Olney posed this question to team presidents, general managers, assistant general managers and scouts around the league, and he got a mixed response.
The real answer to this question won't be known until each of these players' deals expires, but for now, we can evaluate each player and his contract and come up with a good projection of whose deal will be the better one.
This one is fairly straightforward. Prince Fielder will not turn 28 years old until May. When his contract expires after the 2020 season, Fielder will be 36 years old.
As for Pujols, he is already 32 years old. He will play the final season of his deal at the age of 41.
Detroit will have Fielder for his entire prime, while Los Angeles will have a number of years of an aging Pujols.
Prince Fielder will be paid $23 million a year for the first two years of his deal and then $24 million a year for the last nine years of his deal.
Pujols, on the other hand, will get $12 million this season and $16 million in 2013, and then his contract payments will rise to $23 million in 2014 and increase by $1 million every year.
The deal gave the Angels the ability to go out and spend more money this season, but it will handicap them a bit when they are paying a 41-year-old Pujols $30 million.
Leadership is one of those things that is hard to quantify. After Prince Fielder signed with the Tigers, Corey Hart said that he was not the Brewers' leader, but that he will be missed.
Albert Pujols is known to be a leader both on and off the field. Pujols was an important part of the Cardinals clubhouse and he helped lead the team to two World Series titles.
Additionally, Pujols was a big leader in the St. Louis community with his charity foundation.
Impact on Team's Bottom Line
Baseball is still a business and both teams needed to feel that shelling out over $200 million was a good decision before they made their respective moves.
Detroit should see a nice boost in attendance and merchandise sales. However, merchandise sales are split evenly between teams, so that point is moot. The Fielder signing should help the Tigers with their next TV deal.
Los Angeles has already seen a large increase in ticket sales since they signed Albert Pujols. Estimates predict that the Angels can make millions more a year in revenue thanks to the Pujols signing. Pujols adds to the franchise's value and makes the team much more valuable, especially if he sets a few MLB records while wearing an Angels jersey.
Ability to Stay at First Base
At the time being, both Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder are first basemen, but that could change before each of the players' deals are done.
Of the two, Fielder is much more likely to become a full-time DH. He is much heavier than Pujols and he does not have anywhere close to the same defensive abilities as Pujols.
Prince Fielder should be entering the prime of his career very soon. His numbers should get better and better over the next few years.
Albert Pujols is closing in on the end of his prime. While he will be a good player for a long time, he will likely not be able to produce at as high of a level as he once did.
There is a chance that Fielder puts up a higher WAR total in the nine years that he is with the Tigers than Pujols does in his 10 years in Los Angeles.
World Series Contenders
Ultimately, the reason the Detroit Tigers and Los Angeles Angels went out and won these superstars is so they could lead their respective teams to the World Series title.
Prince Fielder joins an already very good Detroit Tigers team. He creates an incredible core with Justin Verlander, Victor Martinez (after he recovers from his ACL injury) and Miguel Cabrera. They could be very good for a very long time.
Albert Pujols brings a lot of playoff experience to the Los Angeles Angels. With the addition of C.J. Wilson, the Angels got even better this winter. They also could be a perennial playoff team, but they do have to compete with the Texas Rangers.
For those keeping track, Fielder got the edge three times, Pujols got the edge three times and there was one push. It is not an easy task to determine which one of these players was a better signing.
In the end, the slight edge goes to the Prince Fielder signing. Since he will be with the Tigers throughout his prime, Fielder should be able to produce at a slightly higher level than Pujols.