Many thought that the race for the services of Albert Pujols came down to the Miami Marlins and the St. Louis Cardinals. However, the MLB odds were certainly shifted on Thursday morning, when it was announced that the slugger, arguably one of the best right handed hitters in the history of baseball signed with the Los Angeles Angels for over $250M over the course of the next 10 years.
Pujols, now 31 years old, immediately steps into the No. 3 hole in the batting lineup for Manager Mike Scioscia, and it finally gives the Halos the big time bat that they have been missing since Vladimir Guerrero passed his prime. Last season was the worst year that the slugger had in his career, as he batted .299 and had 99 RBIs. It was the first time in which he batted less than .300 or had fewer than 100 RBIs in a season in his career.
St. Louis now has a major hole at first base that needs to be filled if the team is going to compete in the NL Central this year, and it also really shifts the balance of power out of the National League. The NL East clearly is the top division in baseball with the Atlanta Braves being solid, the Philadelphia Phillies still having the dream pitching staff, and the Miami Marlins bringing in names like Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle.
The Halos weren't done there, though. Not only were they looking to bring in a big time bat, but they were also looking for someone to put in the front of their rotation with Dan Haren and Jered Weaver. They tried with Scott Kazmir two years ago in a deal that proved to be fruitless. Now, they have signed CJ Wilson, who was arguably the best free agent pitcher on the market.
Wilson signed a five-year deal that is reportedly worth $77.5M, raising the Angels' one-day spending spree up to over $375M.
Wilson, who is immediately the top lefty on the team, will make this pitching staff incredibly formidable. It acts as a double-edged sword as well, as it takes Wilson's services away from the defending two-time division champs, the Texas Rangers. The southpaw won 31 games in the regular season over the last two years since joining the Texas rotation, and the Angels hope that he can duplicate that type of productivity with his new team, especially since he is going from arguably the best hitter's park in baseball to one of the better pitcher's parks in the game.
With the moves, the Angels have gone from 22 to 1 down to 12 to 1 on the 2012 World Series odds, and they have had their opening season win total changed to 87.5, which is expected to be the higher than that of the Rangers in the AL West and will probably only trail that of the New York Yankees in the entire American League.