As one could probably imagine, Albert Pujols and the Los Angeles Angels did not split up on the best of terms last week.
According to USA Today columnist and Audacy MLB Insider Bob Nightengale, the future Hall of Famer feuded with manager Joe Maddon last Wednesday after he was informed he would not be in the starting lineup against the Rays.
As Nightengale details via two sources, Pujols was “yelling at Maddon” and told president John Carpino and GM Perry Minasian that he was neither going to retire nor ride the bench the rest of the season while ripping Maddon’s managerial skills.
Pujols was designated for assignment the next day.
Not even Pujols’ teammates were aware of what transpired, including Mike Trout, who found out by asking reliever Steve Cishek why Pujols was hugging everyone.
“We were all surprised when it happened,” Trout said. “You know, it hit me a little but. It hit me a lot. Ever since I’ve been up here, he’s been my guy. He mentored me throughout my career so far.”
Pujols, 41, was in the final year of his contract with the Angels and many believe the 2021 season would be his last, although Pujols never announced that it would be.
Had he done so, releasing him would have been a much more difficult decision to make, according to Nightengale.
Pujols must wait seven days from the day of the transaction — unless a team wants to trade for him — to be placed on waivers. He is hitting .198/.250/.372 with five home runs and 12 RBI through 24 games this season. He is 33 home runs shy of 700.
“He really believes, and if he believes, then I believe,” White Sox manager Tony La Russa, who coached Pujols in St. Louis, said. “So I’d be very interested to see if a club sees the fit. Because they’ll get a very determined Albert.”
A reunion with La Russa is unlikely, though, as Jose Abreu and Yermin Mercedes would block any chance of Pujols getting playing time in Chicago. The same holds of a reunion in St. Louis.
While returning to the Cardinals would be a fitting way to go out, Paul Goldschmidt is the first baseman and would be in the way of Pujols getting playing time.
An AL team would probably be more likely, as he could DH somewhere. Some fans on social media suggested the Rockies claim Pujols to see how many home runs he could hit at Coors Field.
There is also the possibility that Pujols has indeed played his last game and will not get the chance to be celebrated on his way out.