Jerry Crasnick of twitter, I guess... is reporting that Albert Pujols agreed to take less money early in his contract in exchange for massive sums of money over the back half. Now, I know that such an agreement sounds more like a favor to Pujols, as opposed to a favor to the Angels (and it is, make no mistake), but it was apparently something that Pujols agreed to in order to help the Angels sign CJ Wilson.
Instead of just paying Pujols $25.4MM a year for the next 10 years, or even doing something like the Yankees did with ARod, which is to load the most value in the middle years, leaving some sort of financial flexibility, the Angels opted to give Pujols $12MM and $16MM in the first two years, and then giving $30+MM over the last 8. [Update- $12MM in '13, 16 in '14, then $23MM in '15, jumping up a million each year until he gets $30MM to play baseball as a 41year old man in 2021.]
Like I wrote last week on Nowhere Plans, the Angels would have been better off front-loading the contract, or at least sticking the most money in the middle years, in order to avoid paying $30+MM for someone who isn't very good anymore. This is because teams who have giant contracts on their hands tend to still trot these guys out there instead of playing the guys who are much cheaper and need the playing time... I used examples in the piece linked above, and will do so again: extreme examples include Alfonso Soriano, Barry Zito, Carlos Zambrano, and if I can see in to the future, Ryan Howard, but also guys like Adam Dunn and Aaron Rowand still got consistent playing time in their respective horrific season(s) recently. Vernon Wells is going to be paid $21MM this year, and is almost certainly going to hold Mike Trout back, ready or not.
10y/$254MM probably wasn't a good idea in the first place, but there was definitely a way around the badness. Instead, they opted to backload the deal, and will be paying $32+MM to a 41 year old 1B/DH a few years from now. Meanwhile, 5 years from now, Peter Bourjos is going to be a free agent, and 7 years from now Mike Trout will as well. Good luck Arte Moreno and Jerry DiPoto.