Lets go ahead and get this out of the way: Albert Pujols has been a shell of his former self for a long time now and no one here will argue that. He hasn’t gotten to 3 rWAR since 2015 and injuries and, well, age have robbed him of both playing time and the offensive prowess that carried him to the 2001 NL Rookie of the Year award and three MVP awards during his time with the Cardinals. Father Time is undefeated and it was pretty well known that the only reason is has hung around on the Angels roster was because of the huge sums of money the guy was owed.
That isn’t to say that he wasn’t valued as a respected veterans who could provide tutelage and occasional he would run into a pitch and show a flash of the guy he once was. That has value...but its safe to say that the Angels were probably expecting more for $24 million a year for a decade.
Which is what makes the decision the team made today all the more shocking.
The Los Angeles Angels are releasing future Hall of Famer Albert Pujols today, per sources. Pujols is in the final year of his 10-year, $253 million contract.— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) May 6, 2021
Again, based on pure performance...this is defensible has a .622 OPS in 92 plate appearances this year and is in the last year of his contract. Those sorts of guys do get cut sometimes when the team is close to contention and there is a younger, better player waiting to take the roster spot. Again, no one is arguing that Pujols hasn’t been good, because he hasn’t.
That said, it is wild that they make this decision NOW instead of before the season or at another point during this whole ordeal. It will be interesting to see the Angels’ explanation and subsequent rosters and performance. For Pujols, he is an easy first ballot Hall of Famer who will go down as one of the better hitters ever even when you factor in his decline.