The Albert Pujols mega-contract didn't work out the way the Los Angeles Angels hoped, but towards the end of the deal, a new star emerged. Jared Walsh burst onto the scene and looked like the first baseman of the future for the Halos.
In the shortened 2020 season, Walsh had a .971 OPS in 32 games. He played just half of the season and still finished seventh in the AL Rookie of the Year balloting. A hot start in 2021 saw the end of the line for Pujols in Anaheim because they simply had to give Walsh at-bats. Boy, did Walsh take advantage of getting the opportunity to play every day.
The first baseman slashed .277/.340/.509 with 29 home runs and 98 RBI. He was an all-star for the first time and looked like a building block for the future. Unfortunately, it wasn't meant to be for Walsh in Anaheim as after a couple of lost seasons, he was just DFA'd by the club.
LA Angels first baseman Jared Walsh DFA'd in surprising move
Walsh played in 118 games last season but was hurt for the majority of them. He saw his production decline dramatically as his 2022 OPS was over 200 points lower than his mark the season prior. He underwent Thoracic Outlet Surgery in early September which ended his season prematurely. Despite the injury, it appeared Walsh was going to be ready for a fresh start in 2023.
He appeared to be healthy heading into Spring Training but right before the season began, Walsh revealed some other issues. He had been dealing with numerous neurological issues which he had to seek outside help to try and resolve.
Walsh finally was ready to play in May, and after a short but successful rehab stint in the minors, he debuted on May 20 against the Twins. Unfortunately, things just didn't click for him at all offensively.
Walsh slashed .119/.244/.224 with one home run and five RBI in 67 at-bats for the Angels before being sent down in late June. Walsh has played decently well in the minors, but an .804 OPS in the PCL in 23 games for a former all-star isn't anything special.
Walsh has been DFA'd and is available for any of the other 29 teams to claim. He's on a deal worth $2.65 million for this season and has two additional years of team control if one were to claim him off of waivers. If Walsh is not claimed or acquired in a trade, there's a good chance he'll just remain in Salt Lake and off of the 40-man.
It's possible there's a team out there willing to pull off a deal to acquire Walsh, but in all likelihood, he'll just clear waivers. It's a sad bump in the road for a once extremely promising first baseman who has seen his career be decimated by injuries. Hopefully Walsh can find a way to re-discover his power swing.