I’d imagine the decision to cut a future first-ballot Hall of Famer isn’t easy, especially for a first-year general manager like Perry Minasian. Yet that’s exactly what Minasian did when Angels first baseman Albert Pujols was designated for assignment on Thursday.
There was some frustration reported after Pujols was benched as directed by the front office in Wednesday’s 3-1 loss to the Rays. It’s since been cleared by Minasian that the conversation between he and Pujols about his release ended on good terms.
I’ve seen a mix of reactions following the move, with some agreeing that it was time and others saying that’s no way to treat a player of Pujols’ caliber. Me personally, I think it was necessary from a statistical standpoint, considering Pujols was slashing .198/.250/.472 with five home runs and 12 RBIs in 92 plate appearances. Throw in a -0.5 WAR this season and it’s tough decision to keep on starting him. It’s a shame he couldn’t get the proper send off I think he most certainly deserves, but at the same time there’s not much else to do from a business standpoint.
He didn’t want to move to the bench, which is understandable. Pujols is one of the all-time greats the game of baseball has seen, and it’s not easy for any athlete of that caliber to except a lesser role when they feel like they’ve got more to give, even if their numbers aren’t showing it.
Minasian cited the most important factor in the decision was giving others opportunities in place of the struggling Pujols.
Losing Pujols will make Jared Walsh the team’s everyday first baseman. He’s been having a career year so far with a .333 batting average and .988 OPS to go along with six homers and team-high 22 RBIs. Walsh will see less time in right field, and now the team can look for other options in that spot, which will be Juan Lagares and Taylor Ward in the meantime. Long-term it could be Jo Adell or No.1 prospect Brandon Marsh.
Angels: Releasing Albert Pujols should wake the rest of this team up.
Regardless if you agree or disagree with the DFA of Pujols, it makes one thing clear as this sends something of a message to the rest of the team.
More from Albert Pujols
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- Shohei Ohtani, Jared Walsh prove releasing Albert Pujols was right move
- Albert Pujols: Has slugger revived his career after leaving the LA Angels?
- LA Angels: Things without Albert Pujols
- Albert Pujols: Reaction to Dodgers signing former Angel
The fact a first-ballot Hall of Famer got no special treatment means, probably outside of Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani, nobody’s job on the roster is safe no matter how much they are suppose to be paid or what they’ve done in their careers. If a player is underperforming or not putting forth necessary effort, expect other alternatives especially if that said player is in the way of someone else who could contribute to the Angels’ future.
Cutting Pujols is the type of move that should wake up the rest of the team, especially when you consider the rut they’ve been playing in. The Angels are in a season-long four-game losing streak and have lost 13 of their last 19 contests after starting the season 7-3. A move of this magnitude happening so early shows owner Arte Moreno and Minasian are not messing around when it comes to getting the best with what they have.
Now that doesn’t mean they’re going to go out and make blockbuster trades to put better talent on the field, but it does mean the team will look for any internal options that could bring some sort of life to the current roster.
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After losing a locker room leader and one of the greatest baseball players of all time, I’m curious to see how the Angels respond on Thursday night against the Rays.