The Los Angeles Angels designated Albert Pujols for assignment on Thursday, hardly a month into the final year of his contract, in a move that signals the split between the future Hall of Famer and team.
The Angels plan to release Pujols once he clears waivers.
A person familiar with the situation told USA TODAY Sports' Bob Nightengale that Pujols had been unhappy with his playing time. The person requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.
Pujols currently sits at 667 home runs, having recently passed Willie Mays for fifth on MLB’s all-time list. The future first-ballot Hall of Famer has 3,253 hits to his name and 2,112 RBI over a career that has seen him win the 2001 Rookie of the Year, three MVPs (2005, 2008, 2009) and six Silver Sluggers, while earning 10 All-Star selections.
MLB.com first reported news of his release. Pujols was batting .198 with five home runs in 86 at-bats this year.
After establishing himself as one of the best players in baseball with the St. Louis Cardinals, with whom he won two World Series titles (2006, 2011), Pujols signed a 10-year, $240 million deal with the Angels following the 2011 season.
A career .328 hitter before arriving in Los Angeles, Pujols never hit better than .285 with the Angels (his first season). He hit 30 home runs in 2012 and had strong years in 2015 (40 home runs) and 2016 (31 homers, 119 RBI), but Pujols’ output in his 30s did not match his level of production from the previous decade.
The Angels made one postseason with Pujols on the roster, a three-game sweep in the 2014 ALDS.
Before the season started, there was speculation that 2021 – coinciding with the final year of his contract – would be his last in professional baseball.