On Thursday,. He is in the final season of his 10-year, $240 million contract, and club decided they can better use his roster spot on another player. The Angels are currently in last place in the AL West at 13-16.
"The Angels Organization proudly signed Albert Pujols in 2011, and are honored that he has worn an Angels jersey for nearly half of his Hall-of-Fame Career," Angels owner Arte Moreno said in a statement. "Albert's historical accomplishments, both on and off the field, serve as an inspiration to athletes everywhere, and his actions define what it means to be a true Superstar. Since his Rookie of the Year Season in 2001, Albert and his wife Deidre have generously given their time and resources to countless charities throughout the world. We are thankful to the entire Pujols Family."
The 41-year-old Pujols is hitting .198/.250/.372 with five home runs this season, and he's been a below-average hitter dating back to 2017. Once he clears waivers -- Pujols will undoubtedly clear waivers because no team is taking on his $30 million salary -- and is released, any team can sign him for the prorated portion of the league minimum.
Former Marlins president David Samson broke down the Pujols release on Friday's Nothing Personal with David Samson. Listen below:
Here are five teams who might be interested once Pujols hits the open market, but one possibility stands out as the likeliest.
It's hard to ignore the Tony La Russa connection, right? La Russa managed Pujols during his entire 11-year stint with the Cardinals, and the White Sox have been hammered with injuries (Eloy Jiménez, Luis Robert, etc.). The problem? Pujols doesn't play the outfield, and neither does rookie Yermín Mercedes, who is tearing the cover off the ball and locked in at DH. José Abreu won't be displaced at first base either. Hard to see a fit, but don't rule out La Russa going to bat for his guy.
Alex Blandino, Kyle Farmer, or Mike Moustakas at first base, though none are ideal solutions (moving Moustakas to first would require moving Jonathan India or Nick Senzel to third, and open a hole elsewhere). Asking Pujols to play first base on an everyday basis at this point in his career isn't the best idea, but the Reds are an option.. Cincinnati could go with
The Jake Bauers-Yu Chang platoon has combined to hit .189/.270/.244 with zero -- zero! -- home runs at first base and that is unacceptable production at a position with a high offensive bar. The AL Central is winnable and giving Pujols a look isn't the craziest thing in the world given the production they've received at first base. The price is right for a cost-conscious Cleveland team and perhaps Pujols would be willing to play for a highly respected manager in Terry Francona.
Luke Voit is working his way back from knee surgery and New York's first basemen have hit .159/.258/.265 in the interim. Already once this year the Yankees have taken a low-cost flier on a bounce-back candidate (Rougned Odor), and they could do something similar with Pujols until Voit returns. I'd call this unlikely because Voit started a minor-league rehab assignment this week and is expected to return next week. Pujols would be a short-term fill-in at best, .
5. St. Louis Cardinals
If it happens, it would be for nostalgia reasons. Paul Goldschmidt is entrenched at first base, the Cardinals don't have the DH spot available, and they have one first base/DH type on the bench already in Matt Carpenter. That said, the Cardinals are home through the weekend, so maybe they'd bring Pujols back for one farewell game? Would there be a better way to go out at this point? I don't think so.
The most likely outcome, and it would be a damn shame if this is how it ends for Pujols. Teams have been steering clear of one-dimensional first base/DH types the last few years, and 41-year-olds who are five years removed from their last good season don't generate much attention. Pujols has Hall of Fame pedigree and that may land him a job, but there's a good chance this is the end for an all-time great.
Pujols, for what it's worth, went 1 for 4 in his most recent game against the Rays on Tuesday. He popped out in the ninth inning in his final at-bat.