The St. Louis Cardinals got the best 11 years of Albert Pujols' baseball life.
What are the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim getting for the $254 million they'll pay him across the next 10 years?
Remember: He's 31 years old -- as far as we know, anyway. And with Major League Baseball now testing for steroids and human growth hormone, it's unlikely we'll see players, even future Hall of Fame hitters such as Pujols, putting up monster numbers in their mid to late 30s, as Barry Bonds did a decade ago. His numbers will fall, eventually. His production will wane. His value will diminish. Probably, he gives the Angels three $25 million seasons. At best, he gives them four or five. That might be enough to bring another World Series to the Disneyland side of Los Angeles.
And if Pujols helps the Angels win a championship and grab a greater share of the Dodgers' market, it might be enough for team owner Arte Moreno to justify this massive investment.
But then what?
Pujols turns 32 next month -- again, as far as we know -- which means he'll spend almost the entire duration of this contract in the declining phase of his career. So we can only wonder what he'll be worth on the back side of a sick-money deal that makes him the second-highest-paid player in baseball history.
Certainly, it's fair to question the wisdom of offering a no-trade contract that could financially handcuff, or even cripple, the franchise during the second half of this decade.
Look ahead to 2021.
Then look back.
Did the Angels lock themselves into a contract that, for too many years, forced them to pay Pujols big bucks for small returns -- much like the New York Yankees are doing with Alex Rodriguez, the only other player to break the $200 million barrier in baseball?
Was it worth it?
Or will today's joy become tomorrow's regret?
Time will tell.
At the very least, the Angels likely will find themselves wildly overpaying for a DH, the position Pujols will occupy after age robs him of the mobility necessary to continue playing first base.
That said, Pujols' move to the American League, where becoming a DH is an option, should extend his career as a productive player. It also makes it easier for the Angels to rationalize the length of his new contract.
As for Pujols, he merely did what most professional athletes do: He sold his skills to the highest bidder -- something he earned the right to do.
He also went to a team that has a real chance to win. He went to a team that, with his bat in the lineup, has a real chance to win championships. He made a great deal.
They're buying a player who gave the Cardinals the best 11 years of his baseball life.
What are they getting for all that money?