The Dodgers added another former MVP to their active roster in Albert Pujols, and as expected, the move came with plenty of noise. From people praising the move to those that questioned the fit, everyone had an opinion on how this one-year signing would turn out.
A big reason why this move received so much skepticism is that the Dodgers don’t have a need at first base. This would leave Pujols with a bench role, something that he was reportedly reluctant to take with the Angels. But that’s not how Albert recalls his time in Anaheim. During his first press conference as a Dodger, he cleared up some of the rumors that followed him during his brief free agency.
“Let me tell you something,” said Pujols. “My goal over the last two years wasn’t to try and be an everyday first baseman. I told you guys early in spring training whatever role [the Angels] have for me, I’m gonna go with.. However the team uses me, I’m here for that. Whether it’s mentoring the young guys, whether it’s getting my at-bats.”
With the Dodgers, however, it seems as though both sides were in agreement as far as how much playing time he would see. Even so, the injury to Seager this past week has already altered any plans that the team had for Pujols taking on a limited role. Before Monday night’s game, Dave Roberts dove into what the process is like with Albert and how he fits into the picture.
I think with Albert [Pujols], right now we’re kind of still trying to figure out our roster day to-day. It was different when talking to him two days ago as far as Seager going down… As far as just getting him at-bats, keeping him relevant, taking at-bats off the bench, there’s going to be games where he’s gonna start… He’s a part of our roster, and like Andrew [Friedman] said, this is a guy that made a decision to be all-in for what we’re doing to win a championship. So I see no problems going forward.
The expectation between Pujols and the Dodgers was that the veteran infielder would come off of the bench with an occasional start. Recent injuries, however, have made it much more likely that he will be used far more than they planned for. This is a team that is missing a good chunk of their expected 26-man roster, so there will be plenty of at-bats for Pujols as he gets acclimated to his new ball club.
“I think that’s fair,” Dave Roberts said on the likelihood of Pujols seeing more playing time than expected. “Hopefully AJ [Pollock] will be back when he gets back. But if you look at our current roster, his at-bat quality, his experience in the batters box.. it means something. So he’s certainly a good option for us.”
No one is expecting Albert Pujols to step in and light the league on fire, that just isn’t who he is anymore. What he can do, however, is be a solid bat and another veteran leader for the younger Dodgers to look up to.
If he can do that, then this signing is already worth every penny. If he can’t, then at least the Angels picked up most of the tab.