MLB Free Agents: Fielder, Pujols and Baseball's $100 Million Contract Club

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MLB Free Agents: Fielder, Pujols and Baseball's $100 Million Contract Club
Photo credit: Julian H. Gonzalez/Detroit Free Press

As the two marquee players available in this year's MLB free-agent market, Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder figured to cash in mightily once they received a favorable contract offer and signed upon the dotted line.

Both career-long members of their respective clubs, the two sluggers have built impressive resumes for which they were paid handsomely by their new clubs.

Pujols, a modern legend during his career with the St. Louis Cardinals, has produced Hall of Fame caliber numbers through his first 11 seasons as a major leaguer. Even a cursory glance at his career statistics is enough to recognize the staggering nature of his greatness.

Fielder, though not quite on the same tier as Pujols, has proved to be incredibly durable and has become one of the game's most-feared power threats. His combination of sheer power, plate discipline and durability is rather formidable. 

It was once unthinkable that Pujols would ever leave St. Louis, but when he took a stand in spring training and issued an ultimatum and end-date regarding discussion of a contract extension, many took it to mean that the Cardinals had missed their opportunity to secure the future of their star first baseman. Pujols though, on several occasions, professed his love of St. Louis and his desire to remain with the only organization he's ever known. During spring, he spoke about the option of staying in St. Louis and said, "It's a great piece to have on your resume. There's not too many players that stay with one organization. Hopefully that happens."

That wasn't to be, as the lure of $240 million proved too much for the star to resist. Rather than play out the second half of his Hall of Fame career with the Cardinals, he risked scorn from his adoring fans in St. Louis by moving out west to Southern California. A new era in Angels' baseball was born.

The situation with Prince was different however, as he was quoted during the pennant race as saying, "I'm signed for this year, but being real about it, it is probably the last year." In that conversation with Brian Anderson, Milwaukee Brewers play-by-play announcer, he confirmed the likelihood that he will take his services to the free-agent market.

While the Fielder situation took far longer to play out than that of Pujols, it ended in a similar fashion. Though some had questioned whether he and his agent had waited too long, it turned out to be a perfect strategy, as the Detroit Tigers were forced into a semi-desperate state following the loss of Victor Martinez to a knee injury.

Surprising many that had expected Prince to sign elsewhere, the talented, young slugger signed a massive, nine-year $214 million deal to assume the Tigers' first base position, moving incumbent Miguel Cabrera across the diamond to third. The deal suddenly has Detroit dreaming of a return to the World Series over five years after their bitter disappointment of 2006.

Despite the indisputable talent of each player, there is always concern when a club commits the type of money and contract length that the Angels and Tigers did in securing their new stars.

Since 1999, Major League Baseball has seen 32 contracts signed with total values in excess of $100 million. 

Let's take a look at the richest contracts in MLB history to see how well those have worked out over time.

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