Pujols finished his 22-year MLB career with one final playoff run with the St. Louis Cardinals before he officially retired Nov. 1. He played for the Angels from 2012 until May 13, 2021, when they released him near the end of his 10-year, $240-million contract with them.
Listed in the summary for that player contract is that the “Club will offer” a personal-services contract worth $1 million a year for 10 years, to start after Pujols officially retires. The personal-services deal can be declined or terminated by Pujols at any point.
There’s not much known about what his personal-services deal specifically entails. The Angels declined to comment and Pujols’ agent Dan Lozano did not return a request for comment about specific language in Pujols’ contract.
Here’s a rundown of what we know:
What is a personal-services contract?
From a legal standpoint, the definition of a personal-services contract is “any agreement for somebody to perform services for an employer or an organization for a period of time,” said Todd Scherwin, regional managing partner of the Los Angeles office of Fisher & Phillips law firm.
Some players who have carried out their personal-services deals have acted as consultants and some have made certain appearances at events as team ambassadors. After Pujols signed in 2011, The Times reported that his contract included being a consultant to Arte Moreno and being an on-field instructor at spring training. However, the personal-services contract isn’t with Moreno, it’s with the Angels, according to a person familiar with the contract but not authorized to speak publicly about it. Moreno announced in August that he’s exploring the sale of the team and took on Galatioto Sports Partners as financial advisors for the potential sale process.
Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols is heading into retirement, and he intends to honor his 10-year, $10-million personal-services contract with the Angels.
Oct. 8, 2022
Hall of Famers Nolan Ryan and Craig Biggio had personal-services deals with the Houston Astros after retiring. Another Hall of Famer, Ozzie Smith, had one with St. Louis. And Ryan Zimmerman, who retired last winter, has one with the Washington Nationals.
Ryan’s deal included working with the baseball operations staff and Biggio’s deal made him a special assistant to the former Astros general manager Ed Wade, per ESPN. Part of Smith’s deal included showing up for opening day festivities and before playoff games, the St. Louis Dispatch reported. Zimmerman, in March, said he wanted to explore doing different things over the course of his 10-year deal with the Nationals, like working with their minor leaguers and talking with coaches.
Pujols and Zimmerman were two of the last publicly known players to have personal-services contracts offered.
Why are personal-services contracts no longer allowed?
The ban on personal services contracts, which remains in effect, was first reported in 2012 by ESPN, which listed the following concerns that led to the ban: Personal-services deals act as deferred money owed to a player, which they receive under the conditions stated in their contract. Since those contracts are not guaranteed, it left open the potential of teams using these contracts to avoid paying luxury tax bills.
“After discussions with the players association, both sides agreed permitting these type of special covenants was not in the interest of either party,” said Dan Halem — promoted to deputy commissioner, baseball administration in 2017 — to the Associated Press at the time. “As a result, we agreed that players and clubs cannot enter into these agreements going forward.”
What do Pujols and others close to him say?
Pujols hasn’t spoken publicly about his personal services contract with the Angels since his retirement.
A person familiar with Pujols’ thinking but not authorized to speak publicly about the matter told The Times’ Mike DiGiovanna last month that Pujols “plans on fulfilling all of it,” adding, “He’s excited to see who the new owner is.”
Pujols signed his player contract — which mentioned the personal-services contract — with the Angels in December 2011.
“I didn’t even know Arte, but he said he wanted me as a partner, wanted me in the family, and that means a lot,” Pujols said then of the Angels in general. “It was amazing the way he approached me.”
What do the Angels say about Pujols’ contract?
The Angels haven’t said what specific duties or roles Pujols could have with the team under the terms of his personal services contract. They also have declined to say whether they’ve spoken to Pujols recently about the situation since his retirement.
General manager Perry Minasian spoke in general terms when talking about it a day after the season ended.
“I love Albert Pujols,” Minasian said. “I think he would be a great asset for myself to have in this organization.
“During the games, if he’s sitting next to me in the box, I’d be really excited.”
Could Pujols have any association with the Cardinals?
Exclusivity is the purpose of personal-service deals. “You want to be able to say, for lack of better terms, ‘You’re mine, you can’t do any work for any other competitor,’ ” Scherwin said. But amendments can always be made as long as both sides agree to any changes.
The biggest remaining question is whether Pujols — who will hit the Hall of Fame ballot in five years — will he be allowed to participate in events or do work for the Cardinals, the team he spent most of his career with.
St. Louis Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols hit his 700th home run, joining Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth as the only players to reach the milestone.
Sept. 23, 2022
Asked if the Cardinals would, in general, be interested in working with Pujols in the future, a team spokesperson said: “I’m sure he will always be welcome. The Cardinals have long maintained a strong and rich tradition with their alumni.”
The one bit of good news for Cardinals fans is that Pujols can still go into the Hall of Fame as a Cardinal.
“The Hall of Fame provides guidance to each new inductee as to which logo, if any, may be represented on the cap of his plaque,” said Jon Shestakofsky, vice president of communications and education at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. “All teams are listed in the text of the plaque, but the logo corresponds to where the player’s body of work was most dominant during their career.
“The Hall of Fame always has the final say in this process, and a personal services contract would not impact this decision.”
Sarah Valenzuela is the Angels beat writer for the Los Angeles Times. She previously worked at the New York Daily News, where she covered the New York Liberty and contributed to coverage of the New York Mets and New York Yankees. Before that, the Queens native was a freelancer with bylines in Thrillist and Self Magazine, worked as a production assistant with SNY-TV and MLB.com and briefly was a general assignment reporter for the Bronx Times. Valenzuela graduated from Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communications.