ST. LOUIS, Mo. — First baseman and Designated hitter Albert Pujols, has reportedly cleared waivers and is now free to sign with any team, one week after the Los Angeles Angels designated the former St. Louis Cardinals slugger for assignment. The Athletic and USA Today both report that no team claimed Pujols. Teams would have been responsible for paying the remainder of the $30 million left on his contract with the Angels.
The Angels made the move because management there felt like it could no longer give Pujols the regular playing time he still desired.
“He wants to play, and he wants to be in the field,” Angels Manager Joe Maddon said last week. “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.
Pujols hasn’t talked publicly since the announcement last week.
The 41 year-old may have a few statistical achievements on his mind. He sits 33 home runs short of becoming the fourth player ever to hit 700 in a career. At 3,253 career hits, if he produced the same number of hits as his last full season in 2019 when he had 120, he would leap over Paul Molitor and sit in tenth place on the all-time list.
While there is a chorus of St. Louis Cardinal fans who would love to see Pujols wrap up his career in the same place where it started, the team doesn’t have the playing time in the field or the need for a full-time DH being a National League club that he would desire.
His former manager, Tony La Russa, has already gone on record as saying there isn’t a fit with his Chicago White Sox, but did say he believed Pujols still had another act left before he exits the stage.
The Kansas City Royals could potentially offer a landing spot in the area where Pujols grew up, playing for a former teammate in Mike Matheny. The Cardinals host the Royals the weekend of August 6 and then travel to Kansas City August 13-15.