Albert Pujols wasn’t unemployed for long. According to Jorge Castillo of the Los Angeles Times, Pujols is headed to the Dodgers with a deal expected to be finalized Monday. The future Hall-of-Famer had just been let go by the Angels, his team of 10 seasons.
While playing time was thought to be Pujols’ top priority in choosing his next team—the 41-year-old’s diminished role in Anaheim led him to lash out at manager Joe Maddon, prompting his release—it’s easy to see why the veteran would align himself with the Dodgers. Not only does Pujols get to stay in L.A.—a far more appealing alternative to uprooting his family midseason—but with the Dodgers, participants in three of the last four World Series, Pujols has a chance to go out in style by adding a third championship ring to his collection.
While joining an American League club arguably would have made more sense given the NL’s lack of a DH, Pujols should see regular at-bats as part of a first-base platoon with left-handed-hitting Max Muncy. Pujols has had success at Dodger Stadium in the past (.289 lifetime average with nine homers and 34 RBI in 197 at-bats), though admittedly, most of that production came early in his career with the St. Louis Cardinals. Speaking of St. Louis, the Cardinals had reportedly expressed interest in reuniting with Pujols, who ranks second in franchise history in both home runs (445) and RBI (1,329). However, that was never a likely outcome with All-Star Paul Goldschmidt all but entrenched at first base.
For Pujols, Los Angeles will assuredly be the final stop in a remarkable MLB journey that has spanned over two decades, producing 667 home runs and well over 3,000 hits. Pujols, like so many aging stars before him, isn’t nearly the player he was in his St. Louis prime, but at least with the Dodgers, he’ll have a chance to go out gracefully.