Albert Pujols, a future first-ballot Hall of Famer, was designated for assignment by the Angels on Wednesday, and will be released, per multiple reports.
With both Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert out with injuries for several months, the White Sox need some big bats in the lineup to pick up the slack. Pujols already has a connection to manager Tony La Russa, as they won two World Series together in St. Louis. He’s a threat to hit a homer every time he enters the box. Over his 21-year career, Pujols has hit 667 homers, good for fifth-most in MLB history. In addition, his 2112 RBI are the third-most in MLB history. So adding a player of Pujols’ caliber is a no-brainer, right?
Not so fast.
Even given everything listed in the previous paragraph, Pujols really isn’t the perfect fit for the Sox. What Rick Hahn and La Russa really need are people who can play the outfield, not another 1B/DH. With two thirds of the projected starting outfield, plus super sub outfielder Adam Engel on the IL, the White Sox are left with Adam Eaton, Billy Hamilton, Leury Garcia and Andrew Vaughn as the only outfielders on the team— and Vaughn just started playing the outfield at the tail end of Spring Training this year. Jake Lamb has made a few appearances in the outfield as La Russa scrambles to find bodies to put out there, but like Vaughn, he had never played the outfield before in his professional career.
In fact, adding Pujols would create an even bigger logjam around a crowded 1B/DH group. José Abreu has started all but two of the White Sox’ games at first, so that’s pretty much out when trying to work in Pujols. Then, Yermín Mercedes has demanded playing time at DH with his .386 average and mammoth home runs. After that, La Russa has to find time for Zack Collins to get his at-bats, since Yasmani Grandal has started 20 of the team’s 29 games at catcher. Of course, there’s Vaughn and Lamb as well, two players who are really better suited for 1B/DH than the outfield.
Pujols is a three-time MVP, 10-time All Star, has won two Gold Gloves, six Silver Sluggers, and was named NL Rookie of the Year in 2001. Again, he is a first-ballot Hall of Famer and likely can find a home somewhere among MLB’s 32 teams. However, the South Side might not be the best place for him.