Albert Pujols, one of the greatest players in the history of baseball, was designated for assignment Thursday by the Los Angeles Angels. The 41-year-old Pujols is in the last year of the 10-year, $240 million mega-deal he signed prior to the 2012 campaign. Assuming Pujols and his $30 million salary clear waivers, the Dominican first baseman will be free to sign with any team.
Playing his first 11 seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals, Albert Pujols quickly emerged as not only a star of his era, but one of the most fearsome hitters the game has ever seen. Over 7,433 plate appearances with the Cardinals, Pujols piled up 2,073 hits, 455 doubles, 445 home runs and 1,329 RBI, to go with an outlandish .328/.420/.617 slash line. His production took a nosedive once he relocated to Southern California, as Pujols settled in as a roughly league-average offensive contributor, slashing .256/.311/.447 with 222 longballs over 5,053 trips to the plate. All told, the 21-year veteran has piled up an astounding 99.4 Wins Above Replacement, as well as filling his trophy case with three MVP Awards, two World Series rings, two Gold Gloves, six Silver Sluggers, a batting title and 10 All-Star selections.
Albert Pujols’ name is littered all across Major League Baseball’s record books, as he currently sits at fourteenth all-time in career hits, fifth in both home runs and doubles, and third in runs batted in. Pujols will have the chance to add a bit more to those numbers by signing with another franchise for the remainder of the 2021 season, and perhaps beyond. Early rumors have suggested the aging slugger could reunite with longtime manager Tony La Russa in Chicago with the White Sox, or that the Cardinals could offer him a bench role as a token of their gratitude for his Hall of Fame career. Even the prestigious New York Yankees have been bandied about as a potential suitor, although Pujols’ playing time in the Bronx would likely be sparing to say the least. With limited offensive capabilities at this point in his career, and not bringing any defensive or baserunning value to the table, Pujols is likely to land a bench role as more of a figurehead and mentor to younger players, rather than his on-field contributions. If 2021 proves to be the last we see of Albert Pujols, it will mark the end of one of the most illustrious careers the game has ever seen. The most dominant force in baseball for over a decade, the inner circle Hall of Famer’s ilk is likely not to be seen again any time soon.