SocraticGadfly: Quo vadis Albert Pujols part two: The Rays?

May 09, 2021

Quo vadis Albert Pujols part two: The Rays?

With word out that the Angels will designate for assignment Albert Pujols, aka Phat Albert, aka The Machine, as I blogged at the time, likely leading to his unconditional release, what's next?

First, it WILL be his unconditional release. It's very, very unlikely that some AL team (and it will be an AL team, duh!) blows $20 million to sign him off waivers because they're afraid some other team will do the same.

That said, it's possible that he clears waivers AND some team then picks him up for the MLB minimum. But ... where might that be, especially if we take seriously his statement that he wants serious playing time, and also that he'd like to be on a contender?

The BoSox are fine at DH with J.D. Martinez, although they have a dog's breath at first with Bobby Dalbec listed as tops of the depth chart. The Yankees are loaded at DH with Giancarlo Stanton and OK at first with DJ LeMahieu there and Luke Voit about to return. The Jays are solid at both with Vlad Guerrero Jr. and George Springer. On paper, the stRangers and Astros could both use some degree of help, but I don't see either one shelling out money, certainly not the Arlingtonites.

It WOULD be weird to see him wearing RedSox togs or Rangers ones, per World Series history. Would be weird in a Stros uni, too, of course. 

And, again, it's only going to be the AL. He's not playing in the NL, where, except for interleague, he has to play first on a regular basis. Now, that said, I guess AL teams who really think he might have gas in the tank could get in a bidding war about the MLB minimum for his services. He HAS had a long reputation of starting slow, and a week ago, was around .240 on batting and over .700 on OPS.

Returning to St. Louis would be nice and sentimental, and I know Cards fans are saying, "YES" in many cases. But, he's not going ahead of Paul Goldschmidt, not when they also have Matt Carpenter as a backup 1B. So, he'd be riding as much or more pine than in Anaheim. (I'd be fine with him doing the one-day contract and retirement scenario.)

So, my guess is? He clears waivers, and Boston approaches him first, if  anybody does. 

Or maybe not.

The only reasonable place for him? AL, contender, and need? More reasonable than Boston, and where the "veteran leader" might also play?

The Rays. Austin Meadows and Yoshi Tsutsugo are both bad at DH. To be honest, Meadows is a bit better than Pujols, but he's listed as outfielder first. Tsutsugo is horrible. Horrible. Almost 140 points below the "Kozma line" named after Pete Kozma

Add in the "veteran leader" angle for a young team, and this is a possibility. (I know the Rays paid more than a Rays normal for Tsutsugo as a Japanese import. And? If he can't cut the mustard, or wasabi, you sit him down!)

Not saying it's likely. Am saying it is a possibility, even a reasonable one.

After all, old manager Tony La Russa said "no room at the inn" on Chicago's South Side. Like the ChiSox and like teams up top, the A's are also arguably loaded at DH and solid at 1B. The Mariners are weak AT FIRST. But not at DH. And, again, you'd have to be really desperate to sign him to be a primary infielder. And, they're no more weak there than the Rays are at DH.


Contra this guy, NO the Rockies are not a landing spot. Again, Pujols, even if he warmed up a modest amount, does NOT have the bat to offset his limitations at 1B on a regular basis. The Royals aren't as bad off at DH as the Rays, or as bad off as he claims. Cleveland? See Colorado.

Beyond that? Colorado's already out of it. Seriously. That loaded of a division? The Royals aren't that bad off, but they're not good. Cleveland would be, if Albert wants to play with a winner, the best of those three. I could halfway buy it as an option while still thinking Tampa's a better bet for both him and a team.

Yay-sayers of him going to a place like Cleveland, or even an NL team, may point that for 2018-21, he played more at 1B than DH. That still doesn't mean it was good. It's just that they had godawful options after trading C.J. Cron after 2017, at least bad options for 2018-19. Walsh was there, and the better option, last year, and Ohtani was of equal value at DH by OPS+.

And, to square a circle, although just placed on the IR, Cron is the Rockies' starting 1B.

Again, a GM is likely looking for a long-term boost. Certainly, Albert is. He's not looking to take the place of a Cron for 2-3 weeks and then move on again. I swear, on some baseball bloggers.
St. Pete 9 says in response to me on Twitter that Ji-Man Choi, coming off rehab, is "the answer." Well, Fansided has him at 1B. So, is Yandy Diaz going to then DH?

Update 2: Weirder yet? First, Albert is going to the NL's Dodgers. They have also picked up Yoshi Tsutsugo.

No comments: