In a move that benefitted the Los Angeles Angels at the expense of some external drama, general manager Perry Minasian facilitated the decision to designate baseball legend Albert Pujols for assignment. Pujols was in the final year of his 10-year contract, but no longer served as a positive contributor to a reeling baseball club.
Since 2017, Pujols has barely put up major league numbers, causing some to argue that the decision should have happened earlier. However, his legacy as one of the greatest sluggers of all time postponed the decision until this year, when it was clear that playing him almost every day was an active detriment.
Rather than moving him to the bench, Minasian felt that releasing him was the best option, a decision he only got more confident in as the season went on, according to Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic:
“In having a chance to watch this club for a month, I felt more confident in my recommendation to ownership,” Minasian said. “It has a direct effect on Albert, but this was more about Jared Walsh playing the right position, Shohei Ohtani being in the lineup on a daily basis. For us now and moving forward, (it’s) the best club we have.
“Albert is not a bench player. … With respect to him, keeping him on the bench, him not getting any playing time, we’re not doing him any good or the team any good.”
Minasian hints here that he had been mulling this decision for nearly the entire season, and a string of consecutive losses — some of which came at the hands of poor defensive play — forced his hand. The Angels needed Jared Walsh back at first base instead of at right field. Meanwhile, Shohei Ohtani has been one of the best designated hitter’s in all of baseball.
There simply wasn’t room for Pujols to play every day, if at all. Rather than having a baseball legend sit on the bench, Minasian felt it was best to give him a chance to play for another team if he can find any interested takers.
Pujols reportedly asked for release
While Minasian states that he had been thinking about this decision over the first month of the season, conflicting reports show that Pujols asked for his release when he got the sense that his playing time was about to decrease.
The boiling point was starting Phil Gosselin at designated hitter over Pujols on Wednesday night when Ohtani was on the mound.