Early on this season Albert Pujols was healthy and looked pretty close to his old, MVP-winning self, playing every day for the Angels and hitting .302 with 10 homers and a .965 OPS through 32 games.
Unfortunately his production has slipped and now he’s hurt again, sitting out Saturday and shifting to designated hitter Sunday because of back soreness after hitting just .217 in the previous 40 games.
Pujols’ power has remained strong throughout his overall struggles and his 16 home runs rank eighth among AL hitters, but that comes with a lowly .255 batting average and .315 on-base percentage. And after a decade of walking more often than he struck out for the Cardinals he’s whiffed 36 times compared to just 23 walks in 72 total games.
He’s been better than he was last season, but just barely, and overall Pujols looks nothing like the all-time great hitter he was in St. Louis. Sadly it was just a hot start for a banged-up 34-year-old with another seven seasons and $189 million left on his contract.
Editor’s Note: Hardball Talk‘s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $30,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Monday night’s MLB games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $5,000. Starts at 7:05pm ET on Monday. Here’s the FanDuel link.
Jon Heyman reports that the Yankees are close to signing starter Gio González. Per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the deal is of the minor league variety that will pay González $3 million if he makes the major league roster.
González, 33, made 27 starts for the Nationals before being sent to the Brewers ahead of the now-defunct August 31 waiver trade deadline. In aggregate, González went 10-11 with a 4.21 ERA and a 148/80 K/BB ratio in 171 innings. He was solid in his five starts with the Brewers, going 3-0 with a 2.13 ERA.
Neither Luis Severino nor CC Sabathia will be ready for the start of the season, so González will add some immediate depth at the back of the Yankees’ rotation. Sabathia will likely return before Severino. When that happens, González may be pushed out of the rotation.