In a surprise move, the Los Angeles Dodgers are reportedly enlisting first baseman Albert Pujols to join the team. The official announcement is expected Monday.
The signing comes weeks after Pujols, a near-certain Hall of Famer, was unceremoniously dumped by the Los Angeles Angels. Pujols was not doing well this year, with a slash line of .198/.250/.372 in his first 92 plate appearances, but his stature within the game made his release surprising. He cleared waivers on Thursday, freeing him to sign with any team.
Pujols was in the last year of a 10-year, $240 million contract that lured him away from his former team, the St. Louis Cardinals. While with the Cardinals, Pujols became one of the game’s most feared sluggers, but his tenure with the Angels saw his numbers decline significantly. He batted .328 with a 1.037 OPS in St. Louis, but hit .256 with a .758 OPS in Anaheim, along with 222 homers.
Overall, he is fifth in major league history with 667 homers and 13th with 3,253 hits. A three-time National League MVP and two-time World Series champion with the Cardinals, Pujols has a .298 career average and .921 OPS. He is a 10-time All-Star and had been the oldest active player in the major leagues at age 41.
The Dodgers are expected to use him in a part-time role, hoping the change of scenery will ignite his bat and help the team’s somewhat anemic performance against left-handed pitching this year. Pujols is one of the best right-handed-hitters in baseball history.