Once again, Albert Pujols will be ending his season short after a knee surgery that will keep him out of action for a while. He also got surgery to remove bone spurs from his elbow, and will begin his offseason by rehabbing.
However, one may ask what Albert Pujols is still pursuing. Sure, there’s nearly $90-million dollars left for him if he plays three more years. However, Pujols has also expressed he doesn’t want to play once he can’t contribute anymore.
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Well, his -1.8 Wins Above Replacement in 2017 showed he might be done. He rebounded with a 0.3 WAR this year, but it was still very obvious how little of a contributor Pujols was on the diamond. While he does offer value as a clubhouse veteran, it is hard to argue he deserves to be an everyday starter heading forward.
Yet Pujols does not care. He stated on Monday that he will “try to play as many games at first base next year as I can”. Assuming Ohtani is available to hit in 2019, he’ll likely only be available as a designated hitter. It doesn’t take much to realize Ohtani’s bat is on a whole different level than Pujols’. For Pujols to get everyday at-bats, he is going to have to play first base.
There have been rumors, or more so hopes, that Pujols will call it a career this offseason. While his comments on Monday likely kill those rumors, his career is in the twilight and the Angels must be hoping for a buyout sooner rather than later. Pujols’ black hole of a contract prevents them from pursuing big-time free agents, and with Mike Trout‘s free agency coming up, every offseason counts for the Halos.
Whoever is managing the Angels in 2019 will have a very interesting dilemma with Pujols. Seeing him break records seemingly every week and reach milestones year after year has been fun, but the team always has to come first. For the Angels, that means Pujols is either not an everyday player, on the bench, or riding into the sunset.