Albert Pujols' time with the Los Angeles Angels has come to an end. The club designated Pujols for assignment Thursday afternoon, the team announced. He is in the final season of his 10-year, $240 million contract.
"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."
Pujols, 41, is hitting .198/.250/.372 with five home runs in 92 plate appearances this season. He'd started 20 of the team's 29 games at first base, plus another two at DH. Once Pujols clears waivers and is released, the Angels will still owe him the remainder of his $30 million salary this year. He is also still due his 10-year, $10 million personal services contract that kicks in after the season.
Former Marlins president David Samson broke down the Pujols release on Friday's Nothing Personal with David Samson. Listen below:
According to Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times, Pujols was upset he was not in Wednesday's lineup against Rays lefty Ryan Yarbrough, and the decision to bench him came from the front office, not manager Joe Maddon. It's unclear whether Wednesday's disagreement contributed to Thursday's move.
Pujols indicated to the team that he wants to keep playing, Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic reports, so expect to see him sign elsewhere in the coming days. Our Mike Axisa explored five possible landing spots for Pujols.
In parts of 10 seasons with the Angels, Pujols authored a .256/.311/.447 batting line with 222 home runs in 1,181 games, though he's hit only .240/.289/.405 in nearly 2,000 plate appearances since 2017. That is well below average production at first base and DH.
Of course, Pujols is one of the greatest hitters to ever live. He hit .328/.420/.617 with 445 home runs in 11 seasons with the Cardinals and is a career .298/.376/.545 hitter in over 12,000 plate appearances. Pujols is 5th all-time in home runs (667), 13th all-time in hits (3,253), and 21st all-time in WAR (99.4). The future Hall of Famer is a three-time MVP (2005, 2008, 2009), two-time World Series champion (2006, 2011) and a 10-time All-Star, though his last appearance came in 2015.
The Angels will install Jared Walsh at first base full-time, general manager Perry Minasian told reporters Thursday (via Fabian Ardaya). They could turn to Juan Lagares or Taylor Ward in right field, or top prospects Jo Adell or Brandon Marsh.
At 13-16, the Angels are stuck in last place in the AL West. They've lost four straight games and 10 of their last 14 games. Pujols' contract includes a 10-year personal services agreement with the Angels once his playing career is over.