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.
“…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%|
|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 $|
|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.