From Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times:
After hitting two homers and drawing three intentional walks in Saturday’s 8-4 win, Pujols gave a strong indication he will not allow himself to become an albatross to the Angels.
“God has given me ability and talent, but the day I feel like I can’t compete any more on this level, I’m not going to embarrass myself,” Pujols said. “I’m going to walk off. Whether that’s next year, two years from now, only God knows.”
It’s difficult to believe that Pujols is going to stick by that because other highly-paid baseball players have said similar things in the past and then cashed their checks anyway. The MLBPA would certainly frown on it for the precedent that it might set.
Pujols signed a 10-year, $240 million free agent contract with the Angels in December 2011. The 33-year-old first baseman will earn $16 million this season, $23 million in 2014, $24 million in 2015, $25 million in 2016, $26 million in 2017, $27 million in 2018, $28 million in 2019, $29 million in 2020 and $30 million in 2021.
He also holds a 10-year, $10 million personal services contract that will take effect once he retires.
The Blue Jays have released right-handed reliever John Axford from his minor league contract, per an announcement on Saturday. Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi speculates that the move could provide an avenue for the club to rework Axford’s contract, but the Blue Jays have yet to confirm or deny the report.
Axford, 35, was dealt a blow on Thursday after getting diagnosed with a stress reaction in the olecranon bone of his right elbow. Elbow soreness dogged the right-hander through much of his time in camp, and although he was scheduled for a follow-up examination later this spring, a definite return date had not been established.
Prior to the diagnosis, Axford was tabbed for a setup role with the team in 2019. He pitched to mixed results in 2018 (thanks in part to a late-season fracture of his right fibula) with a 5.27 ERA, 4.9 BB/9, and 9.8 SO/9 through 54 2/3 innings with the Blue Jays and Dodgers. Now, however, it’s not certain that he’ll return to the mound this season in any capacity.
Axford isn’t the only reliever the Blue Jays have lost to injury lately, either, as right-handers Ryan Tepera and Bud Norris have been sidelined with right elbow inflammation and forearm fatigue, respectively. Per Davidi, the Blue Jays offered Norris a $100,000 retention bonus to prevent him from opting out of the minor league contract he signed in February.