The Los Angeles Angels’ former first baseman, Albert Pujols, has now become a free agent after clearing waivers on Thursday.
Pujols tenure with the Angels came to an end last week in the early stages of his 10th season with the team. After a string of losses marred by poor defense, the team decided they needed to go to their best personnel and their natural positions. This meant moving Jared Walsh to first base and moving Pujols to the bench.
The Hall of Famer did not want to be relegated to a bench role, and the two sides agreed to part ways, albeit in a more ugly and controversial way. The Angels have been criticized in recent days for their handling of the situation, with some saying they could have found a more honorable way to say goodbye to a legend of the game.
Angels general manager Perry Minasian said that the move does not reflect a lack of respect for Pujols, but rather a need to go in a different direction, according to Jack Harris of The L.A. Times:
“This is more about playing time and who we have,” Minasian said after the team announced the news. “Albert is not a bench player. We felt like, with respect to him, keeping him on the bench, him not getting any playing time, would not do him any good or the team any good. There’s never a good time for this. But we felt like it was the best thing for the organization.”
Now, Pujols is free to sign with any team in the major leagues, but it remains to be seen who will be interested. The sentimental answer would be a return to the St. Louis Cardinals, where he spent the bulk of his Hall of Fame career. However, the lack of a designated hitter in the National League might make it difficult for him to find playing time.
Another popular choice is the Chicago White Sox, where Tony La Russa manages and where he can play at the DH position. The White Sox are desperately in need of offensive help after losing Luis Robert to injury for the next 3-4 months.
Joe Maddon responds to Pujols controversy
Angels manager Joe Maddon took some time to clear the air regarding the rumors surrounding Pujols’ exit. He ensured that there was no anger or fighting, and that it was a civil conversation with the conclusion that the two sides should work towards a release.