DALLAS -- Albert Pujols agreed to terms with the Los Angeles Angels on Thursday morning in a decision that has absolutely shocked the baseball world.
Less than 24 hours after the Angels jumped into the Pujols sweepstakes, they landed the St. Louis icon with a 10-year, $254 million deal. The deal includes a full no-trade clause and will tie Pujols to the Angels through the age of 41.
It is the third-largest contract in baseball history, trailing only Alex Rodriguez's two deals, for $275 million (2008-2017) and $252 million (2001-2010).
The staggering deal is for some $70 million more than owner Arte Moreno paid for the Angels. In April, 2003, he purchased them for $180 million from the Walt Disney Co.
Pujols, coming off of his second World Series championship with the Cardinals, was a St. Louis icon. The Cardinals picked him in the 13th round of the 1999 amateur draft and are the only franchise for whom he's ever played. In 11 seasons with the Cardinals, Pujols batted .328 with 445 home runs and 1,329 RBI.
He has won three National League MVP awards, two Gold Gloves, six Silver Sluggers and is a nine-time All Star.
The Cardinals knew this day could possibly come but worked to avoid it. They negotiated with Pujols last winter but faced a deadline set by the slugger when spring training opened. He did not want to be distracted once the season started, so he terminated negotiations upon reporting to camp in Jupiter, Fla., last February.
St. Louis presented Pujols with a new offer on Tuesday, a reported 10-year offer for $220 million. The Miami Marlins were pushing hard to sign Pujols this week but talks between them and Pujols' camp ended on Wednesday. The Cubs earlier this week became involved, but they were only interested on a shorter-term deal, for four or five years.
The Angels moved into the talks full bore on Wednesday, with owner Arte Moreno personally speaking with Pujols. Even as late as Wednesday afternoon, first-year Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto worked to deflect attention away from the Angels as they made their stealth bid.
"Our net is spread wide," Dipoto said when asked about Pujols, but that's not necessarily where our focus is."
By Thursday, stunningly, shockingly, impressively ... that net had caught the biggest prize on the free agent market.
It was a dramatic reversal of the Angels recent misfortunes on the free agent market. In recent years, they've swung and missed at CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and, perhaps most frustratingly for them, Carl Crawford last winter. All indications were that Crawford wanted to play in the West, but the Red Sox moved in and blew the Angels out of the water with a seven-year, $142 million deal.
Having missed the playoffs for two consecutive seasons, the Angels have had a growing sense of frustration. They're betting that Pujols, who has two World Series rings since the Angels' last -- and only -- World Series win in 2002, can help them not only return to October baseball, but win another World Series crown.