MLB Rumors: Albert Pujols has been designated for assignment by the Anaheim Angels today, the team announced. He will presumably be waived and released.
Pujols is in the final year of a 10 year, $253 million contract he signed with the Angels after the 2011 season, and that deal would seem to be the primary reason he has not been released prior to now. Pujols is largely limited to DH duties, but when Shohei Ohtani is in the lineup he is generally going to be the DH, which means Pujols is asked to play first base, which he does not play well at this point.
Regardless of whether he’s a first baseman or a DH, Pujols has not hit well enough to warrant a spot in the lineup for a half-decade now. Albert Pujols slashed .285/.343/.516 for Anaheim in 2012, his first year with the club; however, that was also the only time he put up an 800 OPS for the Angels. After posting bWARs of 4.8, 1.6, 3.9 and 3.0 in his first four years in Southern California, Pujols dropped to 1.5 bWAR in 2016, and has been at 0.3 bWAR or lower in every season since. Since the start of the 2017 season, Pujols has put up a -2.0 bWAR and a .240/.289/.405 slash line.
Despite how disappointing his tenure with the Angels was, however, Pujols is still a first ballot Hall of Famer. In 11 years with the St. Louis Cardinals, Pujols slashed .328/.420/.617 and put up 86.6 bWAR, winning the Rookie of the Year Award in 2001, and winning the National League MVP in 2005, 2008 and 2009. Pujols finished in the top 5 in the N.L. MVP balloting in every season he was with St. Louis except 2007, when he finished 9th.
Assuming that this is the end of his career, he finishes with 3253 hits and 667 home runs, with a .298/.376/.545 slash line. Pujols is second all time in bWAR among first basemen, trailing only Lou Gehrig, and is one of only five first basemen to have exceeded 80.0 bWAR in their careers.