Does Albert Pujols have anything left in the tank for the Los Angeles Angels in 2020?
When the Los Angeles Angels signed Albert Pujols to a 10-year, $254 million deal on Dec. 8, 2011, they understood that deal would likely take the future Hall of Famer through the end of his career. They also knew that the biggest value years in the deal would at the front-end of the contract and that the last few years may not live up to the dollars spent.
Maybe the Angels should have been a little more cautious, as they were investing in Pujols coming off of his worst season in his already 11-year Cardinals tenure. What they got over the course of the first eight seasons of the pact was a cumulative fWAR of just 6.1. Sure the Angels got the major milestones of 3000 hits and both 500 and 600 home runs, but that seems to have come at a heavy cost.
With two years and $59 million left on the deal, not to mention a 10-year, $10 million personal services contract that kicks in when the playing contract ends, the Angels are paying a steep price for a player that is well below replacement value. Pujols has failed to put up a positive fWAR and has been sub-average in wRC+ since 2016.
Entering his age-40 season, it is unlikely to see him rebound and become even a semblance of the player he once was. Pujols has seen both his soft contact rates rise each the last two seasons, hitting a peak of 19.5 percent in 2019, which would have tied him for the 19th highest mark among qualified hitters last season, putting him in range of such luminaries as Jose Iglesias of the Reds and Kevin Pillar of the San Francisco Giants.
At this stage, the Angels are banking on him to hit 20+ home runs and drive in 85 to 100 runs while hitting in the range of .245. That’s part of the reason they went out and spent a lot of money on adding Anthony Rendon to the middle of the order.
It’s not the Albert Pujols they thought they were buying into, but it’s the one they should have known was coming.