Albert Pujols didn’t need to wait long to find another team. The future Hall of Famer agreed to a major league contract with the Dodgers on Saturday, the Los Angeles Times’ Jorge Castillo reported.
Castillo also reported that the deal is not expected to become official until Monday. The Dodgers have not commented on the reports.
The Angels released Pujols, 41, on Thursday after designating him for assignment May 6. Reports on Friday indicated that multiple teams were interested in the first baseman/DH once he became free to sign anywhere.
Pujols and the Angels agreed to part after the team decided to give some of Pujols’ DH at-bats to Shohei Ohtani and replace Pujols at first with Jared Walsh. After the DFA announcement was made, manager Joe Maddon and general manager Perry Minasian both told reporters that Pujols was not a bench player.
But a bench player is what Pujols likely will become with the Dodgers, who boast a deep roster, albeit a roster currently beset by injuries. At first glance, he could platoon with Max Muncy at first base, or he could play first base semi-regularly and Muncy could shuttle between first, second and third the way he did from 2018-20.
The Dodgers will need a DH for just two interleague games the remainder of the season: at Houston on May 25 and 26.
Pujols’ chances of getting regular at-bats increased Saturday night when shortstop Corey Seager suffered a fracture of his throwing hand on a hit by pitch. LA has the option of sliding second baseman Gavin Lux to short and Muncy to second while Seager is out. But LA also could give Chris Taylor and Sheldon Neuse more work in the middle infield, which would allow Muncy to remain at first.
Though Pujols’ overall stats this year with the Angels were poor (.198 average, .622 OPS), his splits against left-handed pitching were excellent (.878 OPS, three home runs in 28 plate appearances).
Regardless of what role they give Pujols, the Dodgers are taking a very low risk. They’ll pay him just a prorated portion of the minimum MLB salary, which is $570,500. The Angels will pay the remainder of his $30 million salary in 2021. Pujols is in the final year of the 10-year, $240 million contract he signed with the Halos after the 2011 season.