The Los Angeles Dodgers have agreed to a big-league contract with first baseman Albert Pujols, the team announced Monday. Pujols, 41, was released by the Los Angeles Angels after hitting .198/.250/.372 (72 OPS+) in 92 plate appearances this season. He will wear No. 55 with the Dodgers.
To his credit, he did have better ball-tracking data than those raw results indicate: his 90.5 average exit velocity would be his highest since 2015, while his 112.9 mph max exit velocity would be his best since 2016. Coincidentally, the 2015-16 seasons were Pujols' most recent as an above-average hitter, so the Dodgers might be hoping his performance moving forward resembles what he did in those years rather than what he's done in the seasons since.
The Angels are responsible for the remainder of Pujols' $30 million salary, meaning the Dodgers will be on the hook for only the prorated league minimum. In that sense, this is a low-risk signing for Los Angeles: if Pujols doesn't perform better, or if he clashes with manager Dave Roberts over playing time, then the Dodgers can cut bait without hesitation.
Shortly after the move was announced, Pujols, on Twitter, said he would "embrace" his role with the Dodgers.
The role that Andrew Friedman and Dave Roberts have presented to me is one that I embrace. I am excited to be part of the Dodger family and want to thank Andrew, Dave and the rest of the Dodger organization for this opportunity. My goal is the same as it’s always been - to— Albert Pujols (@PujolsFive) May 17, 2021
The Dodgers are currently without multiple first-base options, including Cody Bellinger and Edwin Ríos, who is expected to miss the rest of the season because of a torn labrum. Los Angeles placed outfielder A.J. Pollock on the injured list on Saturday as well, so, at minimum, Pujols should give the Dodgers a much-needed additional right-handed option.
Pujols is a three-time Most Valuable Player Award winner, as well as a six-time Silver Slugger Award and two-time Gold Glove Award recipient. He's also a 10-time All-Star and a two-time World Series champion. His 667 home runs puts him fifth on the all-time leaderboard, 29 behind Alex Rodriguez.