- Associated Press - Thursday, December 8, 2011

DALLAS — Albert Pujols could have been a wealthy Cardinal for life, planning for the day his statue would be erected outside Busch Stadium next to those of Stan Musial, Bob Gibson and the other St. Louis greats.

Instead, exactly six weeks after leading the Cardinals to a second title in one of the most thrilling World Series ever, he decided to accept the second-highest contract in baseball history for a new future in southern California with the Los Angeles Angels.

The three-time NL MVP agreed Thursday to a $254 million, 10-year contract with the Angels, leaving behind a heartbroken fan base by jilting one of the sport’s traditional teams for an expansion club with only one championship in its half-century.

For baseball, it was a virtually unprecedented move.


Many top stars have changed teams in their careers, from Babe Ruth to Willie Mays to Barry Bonds. But this is perhaps the best player in the game over the past decade, exiting shortly after one of the great postseason power shows.

A big and burly offensive force, the nine-time All-Star has a room full of honors, winning the 2001 NL Rookie of the Year award, NL MVPs in 2005, 2008 and 2009, a batting title in 2003 and a pair of Gold Gloves at first base.
And now, he’s going West.

As his deal fell into place on the final day of the winter meetings, the Angels struck another big agreement, a $77.5 million, five-year contract with left-hander C.J. Wilson, the ace whose Texas Rangers lost to the Cardinals in the seven-game World Series.

“This is obviously the moment where we have thrown our hat in the ring,” new Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto said.

Pujols rejected a multiyear extension last offseason that was said to include a small percentage of the franchise and cut off negotiations a day before he arrived at spring training. St. Louis also offered the slugger a 10-year deal that chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. said was in excess of $200 million.