Albert Pujols authorizes exemptions and becomes free agent
It’s no surprise that Pujols went unclaimed given that any team claiming it would also have been at the mercy of the remainder of the $ 30 million salary he owed this year in the final season of a 10-year, $ 240 million contract. Now that he’s a free agent, angels are at the mercy of that paycheck no matter where he ends up playing. A new team need only pay the pro rata portion of the league minimum for any time spent in the major leagues, and that amount would be subtracted from what the angels owe them.
The decision to part ways with Pujols was sudden and unexpected, even despite the aging slugger’s diminished performance. After the move, Angels Brass spoke to reporters and explained the split was agreed after the Angels approached Pujols about a reduction in playing timelink via Athletic’s Fabian Ardaya).
“The guy wanted to play, wants to be on the pitch,” manager Joe Maddon said of Pujols. “He doesn’t want to be a bench player of any kind. This guy has a lot of pride, and that’s a big reason he’ll be a unanimous Hall of Fame member in the first round of voting. There is no doubt about it.
Of course, it’s hard to imagine Pujols being ditched in a daily role at another club. Most National League teams wouldn’t want to play it on first base every day given its reach and mobility (or lack of it). Considering he’s only produced a .198 / .250 / .372 slash in 2021 and a .240 / .289 / .405 line since 2016, he’s also a tough sell as a regular designated hitter. in the American League.
Although Pujols’ bat has been anemic, there are more positive indicators in its overall offensive profile. He was plagued by a small average of .176 on in-play balls in 2021, and although that is to be expected, as he is less likely than your average hitter to beat any type of stroke in the game. ground, he also went smoothly on the fly. – logs that remain in the yard. The league average on non-homerun balls is .109.
Pujols’ average exit speed (90.5 mph) is at its best since 2016, as is its rate of bullets fired, as measured by Statcast. He’s only walked three times in 92 home plate appearances, which is an obvious concern for someone who should be a top player at this point in their career, but his 14.1% strikeout rate is also much lower than the league average. Based on the frequency and quality of Pujols’ contacts, Statcast gives him an “expected” average of .265 and an equally encouraging “expected” click percentage. These numbers can change quickly given the small nature of the sample, but there is reason to believe that it might still have productive bats in it.
Then again, given his lack of defensive and baserunning value, Pujols would need to be considerably better than a league average hitter to have much appeal, even at a league minimum rate. He hasn’t been – or even been particularly close to it – since the conclusion of a 2016 season in which he hit .268 / .323 / .457 with 31 home runs.