The Los Angeles Angels are releasing slugger Albert Pujols, parting ways with the future Hall of Famer in the final year of his $253 million contract.
The news, first reported by MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand, came out of nowhere as the 41-year-old has been a regular contributor in the Angels’ lineup this season. Pujols played on Tuesday against the Tampa Bay Rays and started three consecutive days before resting on Wednesday.
Pujols signed a 10-year, $253 million contract with the Angels in December 2011, when the franchise hoped the legendary first baseman would provide a huge spark to the lineup and help the Angels become World Series contenders. However, many viewed it as an immense risk to sign a 32-year-old through his age-41 season.
The three-time NL MVP never lived up to the contract. He hit 30 home runs with a .285/.343/.516 slash line in his first season with the Angels, but his numbers quickly started slipping off.
Los Angeles reached the postseason just once with Pujols, getting swept in the 2014 American League Division Series. Following the 2014 season, the team eclipsed a .500 record just once over the next six years.
Injuries started to take a toll on Pujols, even after shifting to designated hitter. He underwent arthroscopic knee surgery in August 2018. He returned to play 131 games in 2019, posting a .734 OPS and 23 home runs across 491 at-bats. In 24 games this season, Pujols hit five home runs but had a .250 OBP and .622 OPS.
The Angels’ decision to release Pujols during the season still comes as a shock, especially considering his legacy. He was one of the greatest players of his generation, earning 10 All-Star selections and winning two World Series with the St. Louis Cardinals.
As word spread of the Angels’ stunning move, MLB fans, analysts and managers reacted to the shocking release of Pujols and his overall legacy.
IDK if this is it for Pujols, but if it is, damn what a career. The first superstar I grew up watching, an absolute legend on both sides of the ball. The dude put up a 1.037 OPS in 11 years as a Cardinal with 271 more walks than Ks, and the insanity of that cannot be overstated— Jon Becker (@jonbecker_) May 6, 2021
Dave Martinez on Albert Pujols: "He's one of the best, a future Hall of Famer. The guy is a tremendous hitter, a tremendous player. He's had an unbelievable career. Not saying that his career is over but he's been unbelievable. He's one of the best hitters in the game."— Maria Torres (@maria_torres3) May 6, 2021
I’m sorry but that’s some absolute dog poop on the Angels behalf. What a horrible horrible thing to do to Pujols.— Chelsea Ladd (@chelseabrooke) May 6, 2021
I’m guessing/hoping they offered him the chance to gracefully retire before being released. Which, means pujols still wants to play. Any team gonna take a flier? https://t.co/scU49Xz2BM— Jomboy (@Jomboy_) May 6, 2021
Tony La Russa calls Albert Pujols:— D.J. Short (@djshort) May 6, 2021
"Can you play center field?"