ANAHEIM– The Los Angeles Angles are talking about the decision announced earlier Thursday that it had designated Albert Pujols for assignment, ending his career in Southern California in the last year of a 10-year contract signed following the 2011 season.
In the end, team officials say the decision boiled down to playing time it no longer was able to give him as an everyday player.
Injuries over the years had pushed Pujols into more of a DH role than at first base. He played 98 games at first base in 2019, but before that, had only played more than 100 games in the field twice in a decade with the Angels, last playing 116 games at first in 2014.
Angels manager Joe Maddon acknowledged in Spring Training that even with earning $30 million this season, Pujols’ playing time could decline behind designated hitter Shohei Ohtani and first baseman Jared Walsh, two of Los Angeles’ top hitters alongside Trout, Anthony Rendon and Justin Upton.
On this young season, Pujols played at first in 20 games for the Angels, hitting .198 with 5 HR and 12 RBI. Pujols is fifth in major league history with 667 career homers and 13th with 3,253 hits.
“He wants to play, and he wants to be in the field,” Maddon said Thursday. “Hopefully he’s going to get that opportunity somewhere else, and believe me, we’re all going to be rooting for him.”
After a decent start to the season, Pujols had been in a 7-for-43 slump since April 20, hitting three homers in that stretch. He was still playing regularly at first base because an injury to right fielder Dexter Fowler forced the Angels to play Walsh in the outfield, but Pujols wasn’t in the lineup Wednesday against Tampa Bay.
The decision was made after Pujols, dissatisfied with irregular playing time, had a late-night meeting with general manager Perry Minasian and team president John Carpino.
“Albert is not a bench player,” said Minasian, the club’s first-year GM. “Him being on the bench would not do him any good, and would not do the team any good. He’s as motivated as he’s ever been. If the situation was different and there were at-bats for him to play here, it would be different.”
Angels officials confirmed Thursday that the 10-year personal services contract with Pujols remains an option for him once he retires. Pujols has not commented since the announcement.
FOX2’s Gregg Palermo contributed information for this report.