Albert Pujols, one of the greatest hitters in major league history, has been designated for assignment by the Los Angeles Angels, the team announced Thursday. The move will lead to his being traded or released.
Pujols, 41, is fifth in major league history with 667 home runs, among numerous other statistical superlatives — particularly among active players — but he struggled in a part-time role for the Angels this season, batting .198 with five home runs and a .372 slugging percentage in 92 plate appearances.
Arte Moreno, the owner of the Angels, released a statement saying he was honored that Pujols had spent nearly half of his career with the team.
“Albert Pujols’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,” Moreno’s statement said.
The Angels have seven days to either trade Pujols or place him on irrevocable waivers. If he goes unclaimed, he will be released and free to sign with any team. One potential landing spot would be the Chicago White Sox, where he could be reunited with Tony La Russa, his longtime manager in St. Louis.
Before the season, Pujols’s wife, Deidre, caused a stir with an Instagram post in which she seemed to indicate this would be her husband’s final season. The post was quickly corrected to say that it was simply the last season of his 10-year, $240 million contract with the Angels. He is earning $30 million in the final year of that contract.
A superstar in his first 11 seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals, whom he led to two World Series titles, Pujols was widely considered the best hitter in baseball when he joined the Angels. But he declined sharply over 10 seasons in Southern California, with his statistics never measuring up to his accomplishments in the National League.
The oldest active player in baseball, Pujols is the active leader in games, at-bats, runs, hits, doubles, home runs, runs batted in, walks and total bases, among other statistics. His 3,253 hits are the 13th most in major league history and his 2,112 R.B.I. trail only Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth. He has won three Most Valuable Player Awards.