The Los Angeles Angels made the difficult decision to part ways with Albert Pujols after nearly a decade. His departure saw a few damaging internal details emerge. However, the future first-ballot Hall of Famer has quickly dispelled that notion.
Angels release Albert Pujols
Pujols‘ tenure with the Angels came to an abrupt end last week.
Los Angeles released him a month into the final year of his 10-year, $240 million contract. Pujols held a triple slash of .198/.250/.375 with five home runs and 12 RBIs in 92 at-bats.
The 41-year-old started 20 of the Angels’ 29 games at first base while playing two contests at DH. The ball club remains on the hook for paying him his remaining $30 million salary for the 2021 season. He will also receive his 10-year, $10 million personal services contract after this year.
The Angels took a significant risk by inking Pujols to his massive deal, which saw his production progressively dip. Los Angeles paid him like an elite talent, but he managed to earn only one All-Star Game selection.
In 1,181 career games with the Angels, Pujols held a .256/.311/.447 triple slash with 222 home runs. It’s a far cry from his production in 11 seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals, holding a .298/.376/.545 triple slash with 445 home runs.
Despite all that, it didn’t take long for the 41-year-old to find his next landing spot with the Dodgers.
Albert Pujols silences damaging details about his Angels departure
After Pujols’ release from the Angels, details emerged concerning the reasoning behind the move.
Reports indicated that the future Hall of Famer held internal friction with manager Joe Maddon’s approach while he aired that he wanted consistent playing time. During Pujols’ introductory press conference with the Dodgers on Monday, he dispelled that notion.
“I think there’s a lot of things out there saying, ‘Oh, you wanted more playing time, you wanted to play every day,’” Pujols said via The Associated Press. “That never came out of my mouth.”
“My goal the last two years was never to try to be an everyday first baseman. I told you guys in spring training, whatever role they have for me, I’m going to go with. I understand they made that decision as an organization, a business decision, and no hard feelings. I understand that.”
Pujols is at the stage of his career where playing every day is an unattainable goal due to his age and injuries. He hasn’t played north of 140 games since the 2017 season.
The 10-time All-Star isn’t the player he once was, but there is a clear realization that being an everyday player is behind him. He can now focus entirely on helping the Dodgers capture a second straight World Series title.
Eyeing World Series bid with Dodgers
Pujols‘ Next MLB stop immediately places him into a promising situation.
Notable injuries have battered Los Angeles, but the three-time NL MVP has a chance to make a substantial impact. Pujols demonstrated that in his first game on Monday night behind an RBI single.
The 41-year-old will likely step into the everyday starting lineup at first base, especially with Corey Seager out for the next two months with a fractured right hand. Max Muncy will move to second base while Gavin Lux will take over at shortstop
Pujols’ role will change once Seager returns, putting him in a pinch-hitter position while mixing in spot starts for Muncy and DH duties. Beyond that, he has an opportunity to vie for a third World Series ring.