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Musial and Pujols: Deferred money and personal services

I know many St. Louis Cardinals-oriented readers are very tired of anything about Albert Pujols – including comparisons with Stan Musial. Still, I just read something Musial-related that can be applied to Pujols that I think is worth sharing.

As everyone who might care already knows, part of the family-friendly package used to lure Pujols to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and keep him there is a 10-year personal services contract at $1 million per year that picks up when his playing career ends.

While that idea is not new, I didn’t realize how old it really is.

Another data point is that the Cardinals largest reported offer included $30 million of deferred money, while the Angels’ winning bid had none.

This winter, I have been reading and re-reading various Musial-related books. My most recent subject was James Giglio’s 2001 bio, “Musial: From Stash to Stan the Man.” The book, meticulously researched and footnoted, revealed some very interesting facts.

I will say right up front that comparing compensation across very different eras, especially one without free agency to one with free agency, is a dicey proposition from the very start. In a partial recognition of that, I will be using percentages here, but this should not be considered an exhaustive financial analysis by any stretch of the imagination.

In the early 1960’s, future Hall of Fame executive Branch Rickey had re-joined the Cardinals as a special consultant to owner Gussie Busch. This caused considerable organizational friction with general manager Bing Devine. The 81-year-old Rickey wanted Musial to retire prior to what would become The Man’s final season in 1963. When that failed, he pushed to dispose of Musial and his contract instead.

From Giglio:

“…Accustomed to dispatching aging stars who still had market value, he (Rickey) now recommended selling Musial’s sixty-five-thousand-dollar contract. Aside from Musial’s enormous popularity with hometown fans, Devine explained that his unique contract, in which the Cardinals owed him approximately two hundred thousand dollars in deferred income, made that difficult to do. That “arrangement,” approved by the commissioner of baseball and the Internal Revenue Service, explained Devine, tied Musial to the Cardinals.”

So we know that for a superstar, even in 1963, significant deferred money could be involved. It was unclear over how many years that $200,000 had been deferred, but we do know this. That deferral amount represented over three times Musial’s then-current annual salary. (Note: Musial had earned a peak of $100,000 in the late 1950’s, but made $65,000 in each of his final three seasons.)

In Pujolsian terms, deferring just over three times his annual one-year salary in his proposed Cardinals contract of ten years, $210 million, would have represented almost $65 million. The Cards’ deal reportedly actually included “only” $30 million deferred.

Player contract Age Final year Total amount Deferred % Deferred $
final year salary deferred of 1 year at 308%
Musial 1963 42 $65,000 $200,000 308%
Pujols as Cardinal* 2021 41 $21,000,000 $30,000,000 143% $64,680,000

From the now-closed Cardinals Museum, Giglio had studied Musial’s 1963 contract. It indicated the organization, likely Busch specifically, realized the importance of retaining Musial as a Cardinals ambassador after his playing days ended and put a value on it.

Again, from Giglio:

“Even before playing his last game, Musial attended the Cardinals’ organizational meetings as a vice president, starting on September 26, 1963, to discuss plans for the next season and review player evaluation reports… While Musial’s salary as vice president is unrecorded, his 1963 contract contained a clause requiring the ball club to pay him $16,770 yearly plus expenses for thirteen years for at least ten annual public appearances.”

To help compare that to Pujols, I first put the personal services (PS) deal alongside the salary of each during his final season as a player. I then determined the annual value of Musial’s personal services contract in comparison to today’s value of Pujols’ personal services clause.

Player contract Age Final year Personal services PS PS as percent PS salary
final year salary salary years of final year in 2012 $
Musial 1963 42 $65,000 $16,770 13 25.8% $119,000
Pujols as Angel 2021 41 $30,000,000 $1,000,000 10 3.3% $1,000,000

At first blush, this indicates Musial’s personal service contract, at over 25 percent of his player salary, might be comparatively more lucrative than Pujols’. Of course, the salary base of any player in 1963 was artificially restricted while I believe Pujols’ 2021 base is the largest single-year salary in baseball history committed to-date.

When considering the purchasing power of Musial’s $16,770 today, it only translates to $119,000, making the Pujols personal services deal far superior. Of course, there are still 10 years of inflation ahead to devalue today’s $1,000,000 before Pujols begins to collect.  He shouldn’t be hurting financially, though. By 2022, Pujols will have earned more than $350,000,000 during his playing career.

Not a surprising conclusion at all, but I still hope you found this diversion interesting.

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Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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17 Responses to “Musial and Pujols: Deferred money and personal services”

  1. blingboy says:

    Do special instructors get to suit up? What if Jimmy Ballgame wants his old number?

    Also glad to hear Ozzie will be around. Maybe he can suit up too.

    Franky gets Matheny’s old job. At least I like to spin it that way.

    Lou, Gibby. . Sounds like Roger Dean is going to be a sea of red (jackets) this spring. Hombres.

  2. Brian Walton says:

    Yes, they do suit up. There would simply be two #15s. It isn’t like Edmonds is eligible to play in games. Typically, the special instructors don’t stay the entire spring, but Red seems to be the exception.

    Here is a link to my recap of my 2005 encounter with spring training instructor Gibson.

    • blingboy says:

      Enjoyed the linked article. Still have the Mustang? With the 8 track player?

      I’ve had the chance to exchange a couple words with Gibby years ago, so I know how it felt.

      I’d make a shitty reporter, spending all my time chasing the old guys around.

      • Brian Walton says:

        Yes. The car is a pseudo family member. I always called it my Mom’s fourth son, but in reality, she may have liked it best.

        One of my conversations I look back upon most fondly was a chat I had with George Kissell while he was sitting in a plastic chair watching batting and fielding practice one spring day. I doubt he felt the same way. 😉

        • blingboy says:

          I’ll bet you could have talked to him all day. I had a chat with an old cigar chomper named Paul Snyder that I’ll always fondly remember. He was sitting there watching guys work out too. I’m sure he was supposed to be working but he gave me some time and attention.

    • blingboy says:

      Gibson trivia. Which did Gibby have more of for his career – wins or complete games?

      • bigchieftootiemontana says:

        good one Bling, I had to look it up-Gibson had 255 complete games and 251 wins, predictable with
        no run support in the 1967 and ’68 seasons.

        Awesome job Brian, enjoyed your encounter with Bob Gibson in 2005. He was certainly one of my heroes growing up in St.Louis during the 60’s and early 70’s.

        That’s interesting about Musial’s deal.

        Closest I got to “The Man” was Halloween trick or treating in the mid 60’s, he still lived in the city in the next neighborhood over from us, got a glimpse of him smiling at a table. That season he had in 1963 is still one of the best for an over 40 year old player.

  3. JumboShrimp says:

    A really strong article by Brian, above. Since much about baseball involves money, a comparison of Stan’s and Albert’s deals is nice to see.

    Another factor today is advertising. There have to be big earning opportunities for Albert as a pitchman and product endorser. Michael Jordan used to make more money via advertising than his salary with the Bulls, or so it was claimed. Tiger Woods used to collect a lot of income as a product endorser. And Tiger shows that an athlete can lose a great deal of money via harm to his image. So many successful athletes have had their images tarnished. Albert’s clean image, celebrated as a hero by Tony, could translate into a lot of money.

    • blingboy says:

      It all depends on continued production on the field, and the popularity with fans that comes from that. Fox, MLB, MLBPA, Arte, Lozano, DeeDee, Alan Nero – they’re all counting on it. I hope it doesn’t sound mean spirited but I hope it blows up in their face. Either way, it will be about baseball in the end.

      • JumboShrimp says:

        I hope somewhat differently. I hope Albert enjoys many more years of great production.

        Albert has been image careful. He was reportedly reserved with team-mates, because St Louis was just a beginning on a mission to become a great player across many years. This will result in $350MM salary. The supplementary earning opportunities outside baseball could also be massive. Hence they have consciously planned ahead, with the Pujols Foundation. Jts good works add to the image.

  4. Brian Walton says:

    Just ran across an interesting reference to manager Johnny Keane’s remarks about Musial’s playing time prospects in 1962. Those comments were made exactly 50 years ago today, 2/16/62.

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