Despite his time as a player in the organization ending on a rather sour note, future Hall of Famer Albert Pujols is rejoining the Angels organization that designated him for assignment early in the 2021 season as a special assistant to honor his ten-year personal services contract with the club, per Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com. Pujols signed the personal services contract he is now set to fulfill for the Angels in conjunction with his ten-year, $254MM deal he signed with the club prior to the 2012 season.
Following that DFA, Pujols looked revitalized with the Dodgers before returning to the Cardinals for a final season that saw him hit his 700th career home run. Though he finished his career elsewhere and had an unceremonious exit from the Angels organization, Pujols emphasized that there is no bad blood between himself and an Angels organization with which he’s set to spend the next decade. He plans to serve as a special instructor in Angels camp this spring and also spend time in the Dominican Republic working with prospects at Anaheim’s international complex there.
“It’s just part of the business, that’s how it is… I’m really happy to be back here.” Pujols told reporters, including Bollinger. “What happened two years ago, I don’t hold any grudges on anything. That’s part of the business.”
More on the Angels…
- Sam Blum of The Athletic reports that former outfielder Brandon Guyer is in Angels camp after the club hired him as a mental strength coaching consultant. Guyer began his big league career with the Rays in 2011 and was eventually traded to Cleveland midway through the 2016 season. Guyer last played in the majors in 2018 but continued his playing career into 2020 before retiring with a career slash line of .250/.339/.388 in 517 games, good for a 104 wRC+. He’s been working as a mental strength coach for professional athletes since his retirement, having launched a program titled Major League Mindset, and he’ll take his newfound experience in that field into camp with the Halos this spring.
- Blum also notes that right-hander Chris Rodriguez will begin ramping up this spring more slowly than other starting options as he works toward a return from shoulder surgery that caused him to miss the entire 2022 campaign. While Rodriguez isn’t considered particularly far behind other pitchers, given the club’s added rotation depth since he last pitched in 2021, any missed time could impact the chances of making the Opening Day roster for Rodriguez, who has options remaining. The 24-year-old Rodriguez pitched well in 29 2/3 big league innings in 2021, recording a 3.64 ERA and 3.14 FIP while striking out 21.6% of his opponents in that time.
- Right-hander Griffin Canning, meanwhile, was described by manager Phil Nevin as “full go,” notes Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register. The Angels plan to be cautious with the former second-rounder and top prospect after he missed the 2022 season due to a back injury, but Nevin says he’ll throw live batting practice this week. Now 26 years old, Canning was a consensus top-100 prospect prior to the 2019 season who turned in 146 2/3 frames of 4.36 ERA ball with a 24.4% strikeout rate and 8.5% walk rate to begin his career in 2019-20. He was tagged for an ugly 5.60 ERA in 62 2/3 innings in 2021, however, and he didn’t pitch in the minors or big leagues in ’22 due to that back issue. He still has a minor league option remaining, so he can be sent to Triple-A if he doesn’t win a roster spot in the next few weeks.