In a rather surprising development, future Hall of Fame Albert Pujols is joining the Los Angeles Dodgers on a major league deal, as the Los Angeles Times’ Jorge Castillo first reported Saturday. The deal is expected to become official on Monday:
BREAKING: The Dodgers and future Hall of Famer Albert Pujols are in agreement on a major-league deal for the remainder of the season, per source.— Jorge Castillo (@jorgecastillo) May 15, 2021
Pujols was designated for assignment and later released earlier this month by the Angels. Though he had five homers in 24 games to start the season, the 41-year-old slugger had a less-than-stellar .198/.250/.372 slash line and apparently clashed with manager Joe Maddon over his inconsistent playing time. Pujols clearly will have to accept an even more reduced role with the Dodgers than he had with the Angels, though judging by the fact that he signed with them, it appears he’s willing to put that aside to join a team that has a chance to repeat as World Series champions — even if they haven’t looked like they have a real chance at doing so to this point in the season, posting a 21-17 record and sitting in third place in the NL West.
Pujols likely fits in with the Dodgers as a platoon partner for Max Muncy at first base — at least against tougher lefties — and he also could get reps as a pinch-hitter. Muncy is hitting just .176 with a .265 slugging percentage against lefties this season (though he does have an impressive .417 OBP against them). Pujols, meanwhile, is slashing .259/.286/.593 with three homers against left-handers this season.
Additionally, the Dodgers’ bench doesn’t have a ton of attractive right-handed hitting options this season. DJ Peters, Sheldon Neuse, and catcher/infielder Austin Barnes are their righty hitters off the bench as things stand now. Chris Taylor was set to serve as their top right-handed hitter off the bench this year but has been their everyday center fielder with Cody Bellinger on the injured list.