The Los Angeles Angels made a surprise — if not justified — decision to designate Albert Pujols for assignment. Given he was about to lose a significant chunk of his playing time, Angels general manager Perry Minasian and owner Arte Moreno felt it was the best time to move on from the former superstar.
For someone who has played a surefire Hall of Fame career, it was likely his hope that exiting from the Angels organization would be more ceremonious. However, it’s also arguable that his release should have come a long time ago, as he has been a below average major leaguer statistically since 2017.
Moreno released a statement in the aftermath of the decision, thanking Pujols for his contributions to the Angels. “The Angels Organization proudly signed Albert Pujols in 2011, and are honored that he has worn an Angels jersey for nearly half of his Hall-of-Fame Career,” Moreno’s statement read.
“Albert’s historical accomplishments, both on and off the field, serve as an inspiration to athletes everywhere, and his actions define what it means to be a true Superstar. Since his Rookie of the Year Season in 2001, Albert and his wife Deidre have generously given their time and resources to countless charities throughout the world. We are thankful to the entire Pujols Family.”
When all is said and done, Pujols will still be remembered as one of the all-time greats, and will enter the Hall of Fame as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals. While Pujols wants to continue playing, even if he can’t, it won’t affect the legacy he’s already created in this game.
As for the Angels, it was quite simply time to move on and do what’s best for the team. Jared Walsh at right field and Pujols at first base was a huge detriment, and Shohei Ohtani’s emergence at the designated hitter spot meant a lack of options for Pujols.
Moreno giving a 32-year old Pujols a 10-year deal worth over $250 million will always be one of his most memorable decisions, and not always for the best reasons. At the very least, he recognized the situation facing the current team and made the correct fix.
Angels bullpen blows another lead in loss to Rays
In the team’s first game without Pujols on the roster in nearly 10 years, all was going well for the first seven innings. Andrew Heaney was lights out, pitching a 6.2-inning shutout that included 10 strikeouts. He was removed from the game after throwing 110 pitches, and with the Angels holding a 3-0 lead.
Mike Mayers was the first reliever out of the bullpen, and he gave up three runs before even recording two outs. Then, Aaron Slegers came in and did more damage, being removed at a 5-3 deficit. Then, Felix Pena made his season debut, only to give up three more runs. All told, the Angels bullpen gave up eight runs in two innings to lose 8-3.