In the end, Albert Pujols’ career with the Angels ended not with a retirement tour or a standing ovation, but with a DFA.
The Angels released the future Hall of Famer on Thursday, unceremoniously ending Pujols’ tenure with the team less than five months before his 10-year contract expired. In a statement, team owner Arte Moreno said the organization was “honored that he wore an Angels jersey” and called Pujols an “inspiration to athletes around the world.”
Although we still haven’t heard from Pujols since the decision was made, his release is reported to have to do with the playing time issue. General manager Perry Minasian said the team’s intention is to have Jared Walsh and Shohei Ohtani in the lineup daily at first base and as designated hitter, respectively, narrowing Pujols’ path to regular at-bats. by Mike DiGiovanna from Los Angeles Times.
Although Minasian said the conversation with Pujols about pitching was not a fight or an argument, the 41-year-old was “passionate” about continuing to want to play. according to Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Registry. Pujols has started 22 of the team’s first 29 games, but it appears that the roadmap going forward did not include his continued presence in the lineup.
It was difficult for the club to continue giving the declining Pujols daily playing time. Pujols is hitting .198 / .250 / .372 in 92 plate appearances, and has a .240 / .289 / .405 line since 2017. If he finds a team willing to sign him as a regular, he probably would. . be a squad in dire need of backup at first base or a designated hitter. He could fill the role of a matchup-based bench bat for many teams, having compiled a respectable .878 OPS against lefties this season.
Given his ties across the league and his desire to remain an everyday player, let’s speculate which teams make the most sense as Pujols’ next landing spot.
Kansas City Royals
Pujols attended high school and college in Independence, Missouri, about 10 miles east of Kansas City. Royals manager Mike Matheny was teammates with Pujols on the Cardinals for four seasons, then served on the St. Louis coaching staff from 2008-11. Pujols clearly values the possibility of regular at-bats, but presumably he would also prefer to address a contender. The Royals didn’t come into the season seen as serious playoff contenders, but they’ve certainly looked good in the first month. The Royals’ designated hitters are hitting a collective .200 / .282 / .369, thus far, and sinking Jorge Soler is getting the majority of playing time.
Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays’ offense has been disappointing thus far. One big reason is the lack of production from the DH spot. Rowdy Tellez is off to a miserable start, hitting .183 / .222 / .267 in his first 63 plate appearances. Toronto has enough talent to compete in the AL East, or at least for a wild-card spot, and currently it seems to need a viable designated hitter. Pujols might not exactly fit that role, but maybe he and Tellez could make a viable squad: Their average exit speed (90.5 miles per hour) and xwOBA (.359) are the highest in five years.
St. Louis Cardinals
While an American League team makes the most sense for a potential designated hitter candidate, a meeting with the Cardinals would certainly be the sentimental favorite. Though he’s off to a slow start, Paul Goldschmidt is entrenched at first base and it’s not conceivable that he will lose starts to Pujols. If Pujols really considers playing time a high priority, then the Cardinals don’t make any more sense. But if any destination has enough feeling to get you through every day at-bats, it’s St. Louis.
Chicago White Sox
Like the Cardinals, this one fits more from a familiarity / relationship standpoint. Pujols played 11 seasons and won two World Series titles with Tony La Russa, and the two appear to remain on good terms. The White Sox look like places at first base (José Abreu) and DH (Yermin Mercedes), but the team is firmly in the contender category, so perhaps Pujols would prefer one last chance in a World Series ring even if That means settling for a bank. paper.
This feels like a must-do for A’s – who could forget last year’s legendary Oakland players like Mike Piazza and Frank Thomas? Mitch Moreland is the team’s lead designated hitter, and he and Pujols could split those duties. At the very least, landing a division rival could allow the Angels to witness a Pujols retirement road trip after all, just off the road.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.