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From Darren Yamashita, USA TODAY Sports

Albert Pujols, Los Angeles Dodger

Albert Pujols is a Dodger. The defending champs signed the 41-year-old 1st baseman and future Hall of Famer to a one-year contract this past weekend. I didn’t think it would happen, but it appears “The Machine” is not quite out of commission yet.

What’s the Deal?

Albert Pujols is not a starting caliber MLB player anymore. The Dodgers know this. Everyone knows this. But they are banking that, if he’s put in the right situation, there is still some quality baseball in him. 

Matt Stairs. Ryan Zimmerman. That’s Albert’s sweet spot right now. Both of those guys became effective spot starters and pinch hitters late in their careers, Stairs against righties and Zimmerman against lefties (Zimmerman is still raking against southpaws). Pujols, for all of his current flaws, still hits lefties well (.878 OPS this season). The Dodgers probably see him as a lefty-killer off the bench. They have struggled against lefties so far in 2021.

Immediate Opportunity

The Dodgers are banged up right now. With injuries to Corey Seager, Cody Bellinger, Zach McKinstry, A.J. Pollock, and Edwin Rios, there is actually an opportunity for Pujols to get regular at bats right from the jump. That hasn’t been a recipe for success in recent years, but maybe he’ll be rejuvenated in a new environment. It would be nice to see Albert Pujols get a second wind before he calls it a career.

It’ll Be Weird

Albert Pujols will be in a non-red uniform for the first time in his career. It’ll be strange to see him in Dodger blue. To make matters even stranger, he won’t be wearing #5, also for the first time in his career, as that number is worn by Corey Seager. Like Pete Rose on the Expos, or Ken Griffey Jr. on the White Sox, this will be one of those odd looks for an all-time great player. Oh well. 

I am apprehensively excited to see what Albert Pujols does with the Dodgers. Maybe he continues to deteriorate before our eyes. That would suck. But I’m hoping he can “push the sun up back in the sky and give us one more day of summer,” as Vin Scully says in For Love of the Game, which is a very underrated sports movie to add to your watchlist if you haven’t seen it.