Albert Pujols made it clear that his Major League Baseball career wasn’t over when he was released by the Los Angeles Angels earlier this month, in the final year of his mammoth 10-year contract. He is right, and he won’t be going far to play out the rest of his 2021 campaign. According to a new report by Jorge Castillo of the Los Angeles Times, he will sign with the reigning World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Dodgers are having a bit of a championship hangover to start the 2021 season. At 21-17, the team is in third place in the tough NL West, though they have won three straight games.
The signing makes some sense for Pujols, in that he won’t have to leave Southern California. The Dodgers are also a major World Series threat every year, though he doesn’t need to ring chase after two championships with the St. Louis Cardinals in the first half of his career.
From a playing time standpoint, however, it doesn’t really add up for the Dodgers. The National League is back to no designated hitter for the season, which takes a major spot in the lineup away for him to potentially fill. Dodgers first baseman Max Muncy is also not a guy that the Dodgers want to take out of the lineup very often for the struggling Pujols; he leads the teams with eight home runs and is tied for the lead with a .934 OPS. Given the odds on where Pujols would sign, the Dodgers are a pretty major surprise.
BREAKING: The Dodgers and future Hall of Famer Albert Pujols are in agreement on a major-league deal for the remainder of the season, per source.
— Jorge Castillo (@jorgecastillo) May 15, 2021
Others, including ESPN’s Jeff Passan and New York Post MLB insider Joel Sherman have confirmed it. Sherman believes we could see Muncy move over to second base to spell Gavin Lux in certain spots, opening up time for Pujols.
My hunch how #Dodgers can use Pujols: Lux struggling, can have Muncy play some 2b with Pujols at 1b. Also, LAD pinch-hitters are just 10-for-53 (.189).
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) May 15, 2021
Of course, Albert Pujols has plenty to prove this year, if he wants to earn playing time for any team. On the year, he’s hitting .198/.250/.372 with five home runs and 12 RBIs, and his numbers have been on a pretty serious decline for years now.