- Associated Press - Thursday, December 8, 2011

DALLAS (AP) - Three-time NL MVP Albert Pujols agreed Thursday to a $254 million, 10-year contract with the Los Angeles Angels.

Pujols‘ contract, which is subject to a physical, is the second-highest in baseball history and 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 contract with the Yankees before the 2008 season.

“This is a monumental day for Angel fans and I could not be more excited,” Angels owner Arte Moreno said.

In addition to the Pujols signing, by far the biggest of the offseason, the Angels agreed to a five-year contract with left-hander C.J. Wilson, a deal worth $77.5 million.

Pujols has spent all 11 of his major league seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals, becoming a franchise icon second only to Stan Musial. He is fourth in career slugging percentage at .617, trailing only Hall of Famers Babe Ruth (.690), Ted Williams (.634) and Lou Gehrig (.632). But he had his poorest season in 2011 and at 31 is likely to spend the majority of his career with the Angels at designated hitter rather than first base.

Albert’s career performance clearly speaks for itself,” new Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto. “He has proven to be the best player of his generation.”

St. Louis also offered him a 10-year deal, but he chose to leave the Gateway City for sunny California.

“He left a pretty good impact over there, I don’t think fans will soon forget what his contributions were,” said former Cardinals manager and star Joe Torre, now an executive with Major League Baseball. “I still think the St. Louis fans are going to be more appreciative than angry.”

The Angels made the move as the financially troubled Los Angeles Dodgers are in the process of being sold by Frank McCourt in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, a move that could give the region’s NL team a new, wealthy owner. The Dodgers could aggressively bid for talent a year from now, giving them a boost in the regional competition for fans’ attention.

“I’m a little surprised, I guess. I really thought he’d go back to St. Louis,” said Cincinnati general manager Walt Jocketty, an NL Central rival of the Cardinals. “It’s certainly good for our division.”

Pujols led the Cardinals to a World Series title this fall _ his second with the team in the last six seasons. He also had been pursued by the Miami Marlins, but they dropped out Wednesday after agreeing to a deal with left-hander Mark Buehrle that raised their free agent-spending to $191 million for three players following deals with closer Heath Bell and shortstop Jose Reyes.

“I think baseball needs to have a steroid-testing policy for owners,” said Andrew Zimbalist, a sports economics professor at Smith College.

Pujols agreed in 2004 to a $100 million, seven-year contract, a deal that _ with a 2011 option and bonuses _ wound up paying him $112.55 million over eight years.

His agent, Dan Lozano, split off last year from the Beverly Hills Sports Council to form his own agency, and Pujols‘ deal seemed like an attempt to surpass A-Rod’s landmark $252 million contract, agreed to at the same hotel 11 years earlier.

Pujols rejected a multiyear extension last offseason that was said to include a small percentage of the franchise. He cut off negotiations on the first day of spring training.

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