Last week, the Los Angeles Angels dominated MLB news with the unexpected release of future Hall of Fame slugger Albert Pujols. On Thursday, the release was made official when the 21-year veteran cleared waivers — becoming an unrestricted free agent available to join any team in the league.
The Angels will hold responsible for the remaining $30 million on the final year of Pujols’ massive 10-year, $240 million contract. Any team looking to pick up the 10-time All Star could get him at a bargain price: a prorated share of the league minimum $570,500, which would offset against what the LA franchise owes, per ESPN.
With the market now wide open for Pujols, what team will take a shot on the 41-year-old first baseman/designated hitter?
According to MLB insider Robert Murray, 3-4 teams are showing potential interest in signing.
There are 3-4 teams in on free-agent first baseman Albert Pujols. The 41-year-old, recently released by the Los Angeles Angels, has indicated that he wants to continue playing.
— Robert Murray (@ByRobertMurray) May 14, 2021
While Murray didn’t name any of the teams in on the Pujols free agency chase, there are a few frontrunners to land the three-time MVP. When the Angels first announced the release, oddsmakers at SportsLine.com but together a list of favorites to sign Pujols in free agency.
- White Sox +200
- A’s +350
- Indians +500
- Blue Jays +700
- Royals +900
- Cardinals +1500
- No team +2000
The Chicago White Sox were originally placed at the top of the list because of Pujols’ connection with manager Tony La Russa, who used to coach him back in his prime days with the St. Louis Cardinals. But, La Russa has since come out and said that the reunion won’t happen — siting filled starting roster positions at both first base and designated hitter.
While retirement was also considered as a possible option, Pujols shut that idea down quickly, reportedly saying he “wants to play” despite his release.
At 41 years old, his days as a reliable longterm starter at the first base position may be over. But, he could serve as some cheap star power for any team looking to improve depth at DH.
Before he was released, Pujols was hitting .198 on the season with 17 hits, 12 RBIs and five home runs through 92 plate appearances.