When the Angels signed Pujols to his mega-contract at age 32, there was always a chance that he would not be able to perform at the level required of him by the end of the deal. In fact, Pujols had been underperforming the terms of his deal for quite some time now. Since 2017, Pujols is slashing .240/.289/.405 and has a -2.0 WAR.
Today, it was reported that the team would be releasing him, according to Mark Feinsand of MLB.com:
— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) May 6, 2021
Shortly after, the Angels made it official, via their Twitter account:
While this is a rather unceremonious way to cut ties with one of the greatest to ever play the game of baseball, it was a decision that likely had to be made. In 24 games this season, Pujols is slashing .198/.250/.372, has committed two errors in the field, and has his carer low fielding percentage at first base.
In addition, injuries in various spots of the Angels roster had forced Jared Walsh — the team’s best first baseman — to play in right field. Joe Maddon said that the team had internal conversations about this being one of the root’s of their issues.
Clearly, they decided Walsh needs to be playing first base. And with Shohei Ohtani as the team’s designated hitter, it would’ve meant many nights on the bench for a baseball legend. It was always the hope that Pujols could finish his career as an Angel, but the team felt this was the best move with the team reeling at 13-16.
Maddon called four-error performance an anomaly moment
In Pujols’ second to last game with the Angels, they committed four errors in an 8-3 loss. Maddon said he knows the team can be better than that defensively, and he hopes that it was just an anomaly moment. Perhaps moving Walsh back to first base will alleviate some issues.