Albert Pujols will work with young players at the Angels’ academy in the Dominican Republic and tutor big leaguers and minor leaguers during spring training in Arizona as part of the retired slugger’s 10-year, $10-million personal-services contract with the team, club president John Carpino said.
“He’ll be like a team ambassador,” Carpino said Monday at the Pelican Hill Golf Club in Newport Beach, which hosted a celebrity tournament to benefit the MLB Youth Academy in Compton. “We’re real excited about the possibilities moving forward. He’s Albert Pujols. It’s an asset. He has a ton of baseball knowledge.”
The personal-services contract is linked to the 10-year, $240-million deal that Pujols, 42, signed with the Angels before 2012 and that Pujols plans to honor despite owner Arte Moreno’s intentions of selling the team and the disappointing end to the first baseman’s nine-plus-year tenure in Anaheim.
The personal-services deal essentially gives the Angels exclusive rights to Pujols during the first 10 years of his retirement. When asked if it would preclude Pujols from doing similar work for the St. Louis Cardinals, the team Pujols starred with for 11 years before signing with the Angels, Carpino said, “Possibly.”
Do the Angels intend to block Pujols from working with Cardinals players and making appearances on behalf of the team?
“I don’t know,” Carpino said. “It’s something we can probably work out with him and the Cardinals.”
Pujols was among several former Angels — including outfielders Torii Hunter and Gary Matthews Jr., manager Mike Scioscia and coaches Mickey Hatcher and Ron Roenicke — who participated in Monday’s golf event. He declined an interview request before teeing off and was not available afterward.
Carpino said he spoke with Pujols about the personal-services contract a few months ago and that both parties agreed to move forward with the arrangement.
Asked if Pujols has expressed a desire to maintain his strong ties to the Cardinals, whose cap is expected to adorn Pujols’ Hall-of-Fame plaque, Carpino said, “No, he hasn’t brought that up.”
Pujols officially retired Nov. 1, capping his 22-year career with a second-half power surge — he hit .324 with a 1.128 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, 17 homers and 44 RBIs in 47 games from Aug. 10 through the end of the season — that helped push the Cardinals into the playoffs.
Pujols hit his 699th and 700th home runs in Dodger Stadium on Sept. 23 to join Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714) in baseball’s exclusive 700-homer club. He finished with 2,218 career RBIs, ranking second behind Aaron (2,297) on the all-time list.
Pujols was baseball’s most feared right-handed slugger for his first 11 years in St. Louis, where he hit .328 with a 1.037 OPS, 445 homers and 1,329 RBIs from 2001-2011, winning three National League most valuable player awards and leading the Cardinals to World Series titles in 2006 and 2011.
He signed his massive deal with the Angels before 2012, and though he notched his 3,000th hit and 500th and 600th homers as an Angel, his tenure in Anaheim was marked by a dramatic drop in production, a series of lower-body injuries, one postseason appearance in 2014 and zero playoff wins.
Pujols hit .256 with a .758 OPS, 222 homers and 783 RBIs in 1,181 games with the Angels and was released in May 2021. He closed out that season with the Dodgers and signed a one-year, $2.5-million deal with St. Louis last spring.
Pujols can terminate the personal-services contract at any time, but as of now, the Angels are planning for Pujols to join them for part of spring training and to be affiliated with the team next season.
Carpino is especially excited about the impact that Pujols, who grew up in the Dominican Republic before moving to a Kansas City suburb as a teenager, could have on impressionable young Latin American prospects.
“He’ll have a similar relationship to those kids that Vlad has,” Carpino said, referring to Hall-of-Fame slugger Vladimir Guerrero, who won the 2004 American League MVP with the Angels. “He’ll be a huge asset there.”
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.