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Albert Pujols clears waivers, becomes a free agent

Albert Pujols limbers up before an at-bat
Albert Pujols has cleared waivers after being released by the Angels and is a free agent.
(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

Albert Pujols has cleared waivers and is now a free agent for the second time in his career, officially bringing his tenure with the Angels to an end.

Pujols, 41, was designated for assignment May 6, a procedural move that served as the first step toward his release.

After being designated for assignment, players are placed on waivers. Because Pujols, who was in the last season of a 10-year, $240-million contract, went unclaimed, he is free to sign with any team.

A club signing Pujols would pay him only the prorated major league minimum of $570,050. The Angels are responsible for the remainder of Pujols’ $30-million salary this year.

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It’s unclear how much interest the first baseman might attract on the open market, especially without a designated hitter in the National League.

Albert Pujols was designated for assignment by the Angels. The future Hall of Famer was in the last season of a 10-year, $240-million contract.

Pujols played 24 games with the Angels this season, batting .198 with a .622 on-base-plus-slugging percentage. Even with five home runs, his numbers were well below the league averages, as they had been the previous four seasons.

On May 5, Pujols was left out of the Angels’ lineup and informed that night by general manager Perry Minasian and club president John Carpino that he would be released.

It was a decision Minasian said the Angels had been contemplating for several weeks.

The team decided it wanted Jared Walsh to be its everyday first baseman, and already had Shohei Ohtani serving as designated hitter — leaving few opportunities for Pujols.

“This is more about playing time and who we have,” Minasian said after the team announced the news. “Albert is not a bench player. We felt like, with respect to him, keeping him on the bench, him not getting any playing time, would not do him any good or the team any good. There’s never a good time for this. But we felt like it was the best thing for the organization.”

Even before Albert Pujols played in his first major league game, Mark McGwire predicted that the younger slugger would be a Hall of Fame player.

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Pujols, a likely first-ballot Hall of Famer with 667 career home runs, has not spoken publicly about his release, but all indications are he wants to continue playing.

Now, he’ll have to wait and see whether another team gives him that chance.


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