Is Pujols Worth $300 Million? No; Does It Matter? No
St. Louis Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols is asking to be the richest player in baseball, topping the 10-year, $275 million the New York Yankees gave to Alex Rodriguez.
Should the Cardinals pay him that money? Probably.
Is he WORTH it?
The only players that are worth it in baseball are often players who make less than $2 million a year and have a material impact on the team’s ability to win, draw a crowd and get postseason money. Pitchers, like Stephen Strasburg, are easy to figure out. More than 10,000 fans come to see him pitch versus when he’s not pitching. That math is easy.
Sluggers, like Albert Pujols are a bit harder to figure out. That is, other than to say that he is essentially the Cardinals. That means for the Cardinals to pay that type of money, it would be a defensive move, so as not to lose a huge amount of cash.
Think about Dan Gilbert and LeBron James. Before LeBron took his talents to Miami, the Cavaliers were worth $375 million. Today? Gilbert would be lucky to get $275 million for the team.
So, Albert Pujols can’t possibly generate $300 million for the Cardinals on his own. But could he keep the team from financially falling apart over the next decade? Yes.
I do think the Cardinals main rival, the Chicago Cubs, could make more sense of a $300 million signing of Pujols because they simply have a great capacity to generate more revenue.
Losing has finally started to hurt them. They filled Wrigley Field to 92 percent capacity last year, the most empty seats in the building since 2001. And, don’t forget, they do take a piece of the rooftop business, which also has seen a precipitous decline.
A World Series title would also be humungous to the Cubs, whose new owner Tom Ricketts is dreaming big with Wrigley Field renovations and they have the option to break out from their regional cable network to start a network of their own.
I still think Albert Pujols doesn’t make the Cubs $300 million. On a dollar for dollar, return on investment standpoint, these numbers just don’t make sense. Many top contracts don’t.
But players are like any asset in business. When companies are considering whether to buy or merge with another business, they are willing to pay a certain multiple of what they are actually worth to seal the deal. That's what the Pujols negotiation is about.
The prospects of turning things around and leading the Cubs their first title in more than 100 years, might just be enough for the Cubs to make it worth the price of doing business. And the prospect of losing their most marketable player might also make the Cardinals give Pujols what he wants.
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