Los Angeles Angels have designated Albert Pujols for assignment, a procedural move that will lead to Pujols’ release by the end of the week, barely two months into the last season of a 10-year, $240 million contract.
Pujols is steadfast in his desire to continue playing, and he let that be known to Carpino and Minasian during their meeting. But the opportunities seem limited, if not nonexistent, with no DH in the National League. The Chicago White Sox jump out as a potential landing spot, given the presence of Tony La Russa, Pujols’ former manager with the St. Louis Cardinals, but Yermin Mercedes has been a revelation as the team’s DH. The Kansas City Royals, who reside near Pujols’ hometown in the United States, might be an option. So might an NL team like the Cincinnati Reds, who could be without Joey Votto for a month after the veteran first baseman fractured his thumb.
Pujols, who is making $30 million this season, ranks fifth in career home runs (667), second in RBIs since they became an official stat in 1920 (2,112) and 14th in hits (3,253). He has won three NL MVP Awards, two Gold Gloves and six Silver Sluggers and has been invited to 10 All-Star Games.
His first decade with the Cardinals — consisting of a .331/.426/.624 slash line, 408 home runs and 1,230 RBIs — stands as arguably the greatest 10-year run in baseball history. In Year 11, he finished fifth in NL MVP voting and won his second World Series ring.
But his prime didn’t really make it to Anaheim. Pujols began his Angels career with a mystifying drought of 27 games without a home run. He recovered to post a highly productive season in 2012, then had his 2013 season cut short by plantar fasciitis and wasn’t necessarily the same thereafter.
Pujols averaged 30 home runs and 105 RBIs from 2014 to 2017, but his slash line dropped to .257/.310/.448. From 2018 to 2021, he batted .239/.290/.414 and was worth a total of negative-0.1 Baseball-Reference wins above replacement. Twenty-four games into the 2021 season, he was batting .198. The Angels wanted Walsh to return to his natural position of first base, prompting Minasian to make a shocking recommendation to ownership.