“The Machine” Albert Pujols is in his 21st Major League season of what has been an iconic and legendary career for the 41-year old. However, due to recent struggles and disagreements with Angels manager Joe Maddon, the Angels released the future Hall of Famer, who was playing on the last year of his 10-year contract. Surely his career can’t end here, right? Here are three teams that Pujols could be a fit on.
- Cleveland Indians
The Indians are struggling at first base as Jake Bauers and Yu Chang split time there. Bauers has a 0.204 batting average and an OPS of 0.580, while Chang is batting 0.140 and an OPS of 0.369. Despite the struggles at first, the Indians find themselves in second place in the AL Central, only a game back of the first-place White Sox.
As the Indians continue to make strides towards the playoffs, they’ll need to figure out first base. Pujols wants to play every day somewhere, which simply won’t happen, but he could still get plenty of at-bats in Cleveland. Unfortunately for Pujols, the Indians have a solid everyday designated hitter in Franmil Reyes; Pujols would have to play first, but he could still find rest days splitting time. Bauers, a lefty, could start against right-handers, and Pujols, the righty, could start against left-handers.
- Boston Red Sox
Pujols in Boston could be entertaining to watch. One of the best players of all time in Fenway Park playing for a historic franchise like the Red Sox—it doesn’t get much better than that. Like the Indians, the Red Sox do have an everyday designated hitter with J.D. Martinez, who is putting together a strong season so far. But Pujols can split time at first with the rising slugger Bobby Dalbec. Dalbec has struggled in his first entire Major League season, batting 0.188 with only two home runs after hitting eight in 23 games last year. Nevertheless, the Red Sox believe he is their first baseman of the future.
The Red Sox find themselves in first place in the AL East right now. They have to get more production at first base in a strong division while still developing Dalbec. Pujols would be a snug fit for the Red Sox. Pujols can be a mentor for Dalbec, who could learn a ton from the three-time MVP. Pujols would also get plenty of rest, as he would split time with Dalbec. Lastly, playing in Fenway Park is ideal for the right-handed bat of Pujols as he hits towards the monster.
- St. Louis Cardinals
We can talk all day about what makes the most sense from a baseball standpoint. However, there’s only one jersey everybody wants to see Pujols in for the rest of his career. The Cardinals have to give Pujols a chance to finish his career where it started: in St. Louis.
Pujols spent 11 years in St. Louis, and they are quite easily the best 11 years of his career. Rookie of the Year, three MVPs, nine All-Star appearances and two World Series Championships are just some of his accomplishments while with St. Louis. His number will undoubtedly be retired by the Cardinals at some point, and a statue may even be built one day. Pujols would have to recognize he isn’t going to play every day with Paul Goldschmidt at first base and the Cardinals in first place. But coming off the bench as a pinch-hitter is something Pujols could most likely excel at since he has five home runs already this year, showing he still has plenty of pop left in his bat.
As much as the Indians and Red Sox are good baseball fits for Pujols, St. Louis is the best fit. If this truly is Pujols’s last season (and everything seems to be pointing in that direction), his Hall of Fame career needs a homecoming ending.