Angels Releasing Future Hall of Famer Albert Pujols

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The Angels are releasing future Hall of Famer Albert Pujols, the team announced Thursday.

“The Angels organization proudly signed Albert Pujols in 2011, and are honored that he has worn an Angels jersey for nearly half of his Hall-of-Fame Career,” Angels owner Arte Moreno said in a statement. “Albert’s historical accomplishments, both on and off the field, serve as an inspiration to athletes everywhere, and his actions define what it means to be a true Superstar.”

Pujols, 41, is in the final year of the 10-year contract he signed with Los Angeles prior to the 2012 season.

Last spring, Pujols told ESPN that it was not guaranteed that he will retire once his contract was up in Los Angeles, saying he was taking the situation "day by day."

"I don't think about it that way," Pujols told ESPN in Spanish. "It's my last year under contract, but that doesn't mean I can't keep playing. I haven't closed that door. I'm taking it day by day, year by year, but you haven't heard from my mouth that I'm going to retire next year, or that it's going to be my last year, or that I'm going to keep playing. I haven't said any of that. When that time comes, we'll see. Just because you have one year left on your contract doesn't mean it's your last year. It could be, but it could not be. God hasn't put that in my heart yet."

This spring, his wife, Deidre Pujols, took to Instagram to wish him luck ahead of the 2021 season, noting that this year would be the last of his Hall-of-Fame career. However, the future Hall of Famer later denied he was planning to retire after this season. 

Pujols ranks fifth all time with 667 home runs, and he has 3,253 hits. He is the active leader in hits, home runs, RBIs, runs scored and WAR, among other stats. Only Lou Gehrig (114.1) has more WAR than Pujols (99.4) among first baseman in MLB history.

He has appeared in 24 games this season, the 21st of his career, hitting just .198, with five home runs and 12 RBIs.

Drafted in the 13th round of the 1999 MLB amateur draft by the Cardinals, Pujols broke into the big leagues in 2001 with the St. Louis as a third baseman and corner outfielder and soon emerged as the best right-handed hitter in the game. He hit .329 with 37 home runs and 130 RBIs, winning the NL Rookie of the Year award and finishing fourth in the MVP race.

In his 11 seasons with the Cardinals, Pujols posted a .328/.420/.617 slash line with 445 home runs, 1,329 RBIs and 86.6 WAR. He won three MVP awards, and finished second four other times.

A 10-time All-Star, Pujols won the World Series with St. Louis in '06 and '11. The Cardinals lost to the Red Sox in the '04 World Series.

Pujols's production has declined steadily over the second half of his career, coinciding with his signing with the Angels. In his first year in Anaheim, he hit .285 with 30 homers and 105 RBIs. He suffered the first significant injury of his career, plantar fasciitis, in '13, which limited him to 99 games. 

In 2015, Pujols hit 40 home runs and made his 10th (and most likely his final) All-Star Game. He hit 31 homers in '16, but he's been a below-league average hitter (85 OPS+) over the last five years.

Within the next seven days, the Angels can either trade Pujols or place him on irrevocable outright waivers. Any of the 29 other big league teams can claim him off waivers. If Los Angeles doesn't trade him and he is not claimed off waivers within a week, he will become a free agent.

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