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Dodgers: Should LA Bring Back Albert Pujols in Free Agency?



After the Angels designated Albert Pujols for assignment back in early May, the Dodgers sent shockwaves throughout the baseball world by signing the surefire future first-ballot Hall of Famer. Pujols, 41, was in the final year of a 10-year $240 million contract that will go down as one of the very worst free agent signings in MLB history.

Pujols made just one all-star team in a little over nine seasons with the Halos and was slashing .198/.250/.372 with 5 home runs in 92 plate appearances before the team decided to part ways with the former three-time NL MVP.

So why did the Dodgers ultimately take a flier on the former superstar, who hadn’t experienced an above average offensive season or posted a positive WAR since 2016? To us, it comes down to four reasons:

  1. to mash left-handed pitching
  2. provide a solid right-handed bat option off the bench
  3. be a positive clubhouse presence
  4. LA would only have to pay him the league minimum for his services

The Angels were on the hook for the remainder of his $30 million salary for 2021, so Pujols became the latest low-risk/high-reward signing that has become a staple for the Dodgers organization since Andrew Freidman took over as president of baseball operations back in 2014. For the most part, Pujols played his role well with LA. In 204 plate appearances, Pujols slashed .254/.299/.460 with 12 HR, 38 RBI, and a 101 wRC+, and his first positive fWAR since 2016 at 0.3. Further, LA’s Tio raked against lefties, posting a .953 OPS with a 149 wRC+.

Pujols provided his share of clutch moments as well, going 12-for-30 with runners in scoring position, including two home runs and a 1.124 OPS. As great as he was against lefties, Pujols struggled mightily against righties, where he held a .495 OPS and an abysmal 37 wRC+. In the postseason, Pujols hit a respectable .294 (5-for-17), but didn’t record any extra base hits or runs batted in. Further, he looked severely outmatched in the NLCS, where he struck out 5 times in 13 at-bats including twice in game 6.

All things considered, Pujols turned out to be a good signing for LA and now the team must decide if they want to retain the 41-year-old, who has spent the offseason playing in the Dominican Winter League for the first time in his illustrious career. There, Pujols made it clear to reporters that he has no intention of calling it a career yet telling reporters,

“My time to retire hasn’t arrived yet. Why do I have to retire because someone tells me to? I’m going to do it on my terms and when I feel I can’t play anymore.”  

So, should LA bring back Pujols?

Dodgers Grades 2021: Albert Pujols, Max Muncy, Rios, Beaty & More! Was Pujols a Good Signing?

For starters, he’s going to want more than the league minimum the Dodgers were paying him last year, so it’s unclear if the club would be willing to sign him to a multi-year deal. If the organization saw enough from him last year to want to run it back, they could use him in a similar role as last season and take advantage of the soon-to-be-implemented universal DH in the national league.

Additionally, his impact on team chemistry was undeniable and his infectious energy would provide an intangible benefit that could help next year’s club. However, while re-signing Pujols wouldn’t be a bad move necessarily, either way, it’s a long way down the list of priorities for the team right now and won’t have a massive impact on the team’s overall success next season.

Would you want to see “The Machine” back in blue in 2022?

NEXT: Making a Trade for Reds’ Sonny Gray Work

Written by Doug McKain

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  1. Pujols is a HUGE benefit as a teammate-just a positive to have as a guy to talk or listen to! Once on the field…a little less productive. At the plate usually a positive sooooo-it seems to come down to the $$$$. I WOULD like to see him back on our Dodgers because overall he helps alot.

  2. Too bad he isn’t ready to “coach” because he would be valuable to the team. It’s hard to imagine any team offering him multiple years at this point, even with the DH, Guess we’ll have to wait and see.

    • I like Pujols but I can think of a couple other negatives. Even as a dh he is only useful against lefthanded starters and these days that might be only one or two at bats before that starter gets switched for a righty. Second, what if he doesn’t work out? Do we want to be the team that releases him? And without the benefit of being able to option him to the minors he takes up a roster spot. Btw he’s not on the 40 man right now so we would have to lose other, younger players to open a spot for him.

      • Dave,
        ‘ Second, what if he doesn’t work out?”What if’s will get you no where in life or sports

  3. Yes, bring him back as a player/coach for 2022 & as a coach only starting in 2023. Cost friendly for the team.

  4. Great for the clubhouse, great bat versus left handed pitching. Just not worth the roster spot. If the league changes things and allows a team to have 45 players instead of 40, then I’m 100% for bringing him back

  5. The Dodgers should sign him if he would lose 40 pounds. By losing the weight, he could play more games and not be as much of a defensive liability. I know that he “handles” the balls hit directly at him but being in better shape would help the maneuverability both on defense and running the bases. I know that the Dodgers just want the bat, but he is only good against left handed pitching. Perhaps another more complete player would be better.

  6. He’s going to hit homer 715 in St Louis and coach there in the future. I’d like him to hit 700 here though

  7. yes if the NL is adopting the DH aspect than it would be nice to have two Albert in the clubhouse and being that DH hitter for sure. he’s been a great part of the boys in blue and if the old man wants to stilll play and cheap and as that position than why not. he takes the league minimum and not a threat to younger players. such a team player would let any team player take his position and with a smile and encouragement.

  8. I like Pujols but I can think of a couple other negatives. Even as a dh he is only useful against lefthanded starters and these days that might be only one or two at bats before that starter gets switched for a righty. Second, what if he doesn’t work out? Do we want to be the team that releases him? And without the benefit of being able to option him to the minors he takes up a roster spot. Btw he’s not on the 40 man right now so we would have to lose other, younger players to open a spot for him.

  9. Pulls was a surprisingly excellent addition. Sign him to a one year veteran minimum with incentives. Use him as a DH and the same as last year. Transition him to a coach or AAA manager in waiting for the MLB job.

  10. I’m old enough to remember how valuable Manny Mota was and Albert’s contribution is now similar. He doesn’t get on base like Mota did but has significantly more pop and is fairly clutch. Plus he’s a clubhouse positive. Bring him back along the lines of Utley and Freese at their ends.

  11. The Dodgers would benefit in bringing him back and give him another year. He helped out the Dodgers and did great. I hope that they bring him back and he stills has gas in his tank to play and not ready for retirement. He is a great asset to the LA Dodgers

  12. Dodgers should sign Pujols especially if the DH for the NL is agreed to as expected. The Dodgers have had a very positive experience with Pujos in his brief stint on the club last year, as this article states he hit left-handed pitching very well and his impact in the clubhouse was incredible. Having a first-ballot HOF’er with a positive attitude on the club has no downside. Tio Pujos can help as he did last year. The Dodgers have had similar positive deals with guys like Utley in the past.
    Hopefully when he does retire Tio Pujols can help the Dodgers as a roving coach or talent analyst.

  13. NO! Spend the money wisely! Not on a player who has seen his best days a few years ago and can’t run. Any ball in the infield with a man on first is definitely a double play!! Not needed.
    Spend the money on a much needed starting pitcher or Freddie Freeman. ( Starting pitcher preferred)
    Can’t start the year with two starters!!!

  14. He can help the team as a coach, not a hitter. If he doesn’t want to play anymore they should find a spot for him in the organization. He is over weight and can only hit lefties, as long as they leave it over the plate. He swings too many times at low and inside pitches at his back foot! He was dangerous but, not any more!

  15. Pujols is like a player/coach and invaluable at both. Roberts can trust him to have his back, at least until the Cards are looking for a manager.

  16. Yes, outside of Albert, Dodger bench players last season were mostly quite abysmal (Austin Barnes an exception). The slew of reserves brought in wearing Dodger blue unfortunately came with very slim pickings. With Albert and a healthy Rios as bench mainstays, may be a different story in 2022.

  17. We had a great enthusiastic player (who also was good outfielder and clutch hitter) with Joc and inspiration in the dugout and to fans and management let him go. Pujols may not be the player he once was, but checks the boxes in other areas like Joc did. It would be a shame not to re-sign Albert for probably the bargain price the Dodgers would have to pay him.

  18. I agree to that Pujols is a great asset to the Dodgers and he helped a lot. There was great chemistery with the players and everyone got along great. Re sign him and he can help the Dodgers a lot

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