Monday's MLB: Pujols’ wife suggests Angels slugger to retire after season
Anaheim, Calif. — Albert Pujols’ wife apparently disclosed that the Los Angeles Angels slugger intends to retire after the upcoming season, although she later amended her social media post to be less definitive.
The 41-year-old Pujols, a three-time MVP and 10-time All-Star, reported to spring training with the Angels on Monday.
In a post on her Instagram account later in the day, Deidre Pujols wrote: “Today is the first day of the last season of one of the most remarkable careers in sports!” Shortly afterward, she amended the statement with a parenthetical “based on his contract.”
Pujols’ 10-year, $240 million contract with the Angels ends after this season, his 21st in the majors. But the fifth-leading home run hitter in major league history has repeatedly declined to say whether this season will be his last, and he repeated his uncertainty earlier this month in an interview with ESPN Deportes.
Pujols is the oldest player in the majors, and he is a decade removed from his heyday in St. Louis. He won three NL MVP awards and two World Series titles with the Cardinals from 2001-11 but hasn’t come close to those feats with the Angels.
On Instagram, Deidre Pujols went on to praise her husband “as he finishes this good race.”
“God isn’t finished with you yet my love and as you finish out this season I know, already prepared for you is another journey full of goodness waiting on the other side,” Deidre Pujols wrote. “Thank you for 21 years of incredible baseball thrills! Finish strong like the Angel you are and I know you will wow us all this 2021 season as usual! 700 we are coming after you.”
Albert Pujols has 662 career homers, trailing Alex Rodriguez (696) for fourth. Pujols has hit more than 31 homers just once in his nine seasons with the Angels, which means his chances of becoming the fourth player in major league history with 700 homers this year would hinge on an extraordinary power resurgence.
Pujols still is one of the greatest hitters of his generation, combining power and consistency at the plate during a two-decade career.
He parlayed his success in St. Louis into an extraordinary contract from Angels owner Arte Moreno in December 2011. But Pujols’ production in Anaheim has never consistently reached the heights of his 11 years in St. Louis, and the Angels haven’t won a playoff game during his tenure alongside three-time AL MVP Mike Trout.
Pujols has batted .257 with 217 homers and 771 RBIs in his nine seasons with the Angels, dropping his career average to .299. He batted a career-worst .224 last season with nine homers and 25 RBIs in the coronavirus-shortened campaign.
In for long haul
In discussing options for a long-term deal with electrifying young shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr., the San Diego Padres brought up the concept of “a statue contract.”
As in, if the kid is as good as Hall of Famers Tony Gwynn and Trevor Hoffman were, maybe in 15 or 20 years there will be a statue of “El Niño” alongside those Padres greats in a grassy area just beyond Petco Park.
The options were year-to-year, a multi-year deal that bought out a year or two of Tatis’ free agency or a contract in which Tatis was with the Padres for likely the rest of his career.
“In typical Tati fashion, his only real comment was, ‘Why not my whole career?’” general manager A.J. Preller said Monday in announcing the two sides had finalized Tatis’ 14-year, $340 million contract, the longest in baseball history.
“He wanted to be one of those very unique players that plays his career in one spot,” Preller said. “He loves the franchise, he loves the city, he loves his teammates and he talked a lot about really wanting to get on the path of that statue contract.”
Said Tatis: “I want the statue on one team. I want to be able to stay on one team and build my legacy over here in San Diego.”
If Tatis and the Padres are correct, the big decision will be which version of “El Niño” the statue shows: the one one making slick plays at shortstop, the one with a “Matrix” type move to avoid being tagged out at first base or the one with the epic bat flip after homering for the second time in a playoff game?
“I’m going to put those numbers first and then we can discuss it,” Tatis said with a laugh during a videoconference from spring training in Peoria, Arizona. “I don’t know. Maybe we can have three statues in different ways. We will see what happens.”
Tatis, 22, had been eligible for salary arbitration after this season and for free agency after the 2024 season.
Rosenthal finalizes with A's
Right-hander Trevor Rosenthal finalized an $11 million, one-year contract with the Oakland Athletics, providing manager Bob Melvin with a new reliable ninth-inning option after former closer Liam Hendriks’ departure in free agency.
Rosenthal’s deal includes $8 million that is deferred without interest, payable in installments of $3 million on Jan. 14, 2022 and $5 million on Jan. 13, 2023.
The 30-year-old Rosenthal went 1-0 with a 1.90 ERA with 11 saves over 23⅔ innings for the Kansas City Royals and San Diego Padres last season.
He made $1,510,887 in the shortened 2020 season, including a $740,741 prorated share of a $2 million base and $770,146 in earned performance bonuses. He also received a $1 million buyout as part of the 2020 mutual option in his previous contract with Washington, which released him in July 2019.
To clear a spot on the 40-man roster, the A’s designated outfielder Dustin Fowler for assignment.
Twins to host fans
While the Minnesota Twins are working out in Florida, the club back in Minneapolis is laying plans to bring fans back to Target Field this season.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports the team is hoping to persuade state officials that they can safely host about 10,000 fans, or about 25% of the park’s capacity, for each game.
The team hopes that number can increase throughout the season as more Minnesotans are vaccinated against the coronavirus.
Crowd size is up to Gov. Tim Walz, who has talked eagerly about wanting to attend Twins games this season. But spokesman Teddy Tschann told the Star Tribune that Walz isn’t ready to commit to a number of fans for the home opener April 8.
The Twins are already working on admitting fans safely at their spring base in Fort Myers, Fla. Fans will prepay for parking and use packets instead of pumps for things like ketchup and mustard. All drinks will be covered up, and unused seats will be tied upright so fans don’t use them.
The Twins are planning about 25% capacity at their spring stadium.
Target Field plans include selling tickets in packages of two and four, with groups sitting at least 6 feet away from others. Groups won’t be allowed to combine and sit together. And masks would be required except when eating and drinking.
Around the horn
The Arizona Diamondbacks have agreed to a one-year, $2.25 million with reliever Tyler Clippard, a person with knowledge of the negotiations told the Associated Press. The deal, which is pending a physical, The deal includes a $1.75 million salary this year and a $3.5 million mutual option for 2022 with a $500,000 buyout. The 36-year-old right-hander is a two-time All-Star and has 777 appearances over 14 seasons with a career 3.13 ERA. He had a 2.77 ERA in 26 appearances with the Minnesota Twins last season.
... Right-handed reliever Jeremy Jeffress agreed to terms with the Washington Nationals on a minor league deal.
... The Atlanta Braves claimed outfielder Phillip Ervin off waivers from the Chicago Cubs.