Albert Pujols’ career with the Angels ended abruptly in a shocking development on Thursday morning.
The Angels announced they had designated Pujols for assignment, essentially releasing the future Hall of Famer.
Pujols has struggled to a .198 average and a .622 OPS this season. He has hit five homers.
Pujols, 41, is in the final year of a 10-year, $240-million deal, including $30 million in salary this year.
“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,” 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.”
There was no word from Pujols’ representatives whether he hoped or expected to find an opportunity with another team this year. He said before the season that he was not ready to decide whether this would be his final year.
Pujols’ contract includes a 10-year personal services contract that begins after he retires.
If this is the end of Pujols’ career, he finishes with numbers that will make him a lock for election to the Hall of Fame on the first ballot. He hit .298 with 667 homers and 2,112 RBIs. He is fifth on the all-time home run list and second on the RBI list.
Pujols is one of just three players with 3,000 hits and 600 homers, joining Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Alex Rodriguez.
He will certainly be remembered more for his days with the St. Louis Cardinals than with the Angels. He hit .328 with a 1.037 OPS in 11 years in St. Louis, including three MVP awards and two World Series titles. With the Angels, Pujols hit .256 with a .758 OPS.
He hit his 500th and 600th homers with the Angels, and he also collected his 3,000th hit and 2,000th RBI in an Angels uniform.
Although his numbers declined significantly shortly after he joined the Angels, over the past few years they had leveled off and he was able to provide some production.
It was clear that his playing time would be significantly reduced this year because of the presence of Shohei Ohtani at DH and Jared Walsh at first base. Pujols continued to play because Dexter Fowler’s season-ending knee injury pushed Walsh to right field, but in recent days the Angels determined they were better off with Walsh at first and someone else — Juan Lagares or Taylor Ward — in the outfield.
More to come on this story.
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