The former St. Louis Cardinals’ superstar Albert Pujols announced he wants to play in 2021. Should a reunion be in the works?
Back in 2011, after the St. Louis Cardinals won their 11th World Series, the team’s core changed drastically. That change, as you know, came when Albert Pujols left St. Louis in his own Manifest Destiny to go play with the Angels on a 10-year, $240M deal.
In hindsight, we know the Cardinals were better off letting Pujols walk, but it still wasn’t anything fans thought was ever possible. If the Cards had signed Pujols to that deal, Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina wouldn’t have been able to stay with the Cardinals for their whole careers and the team also wouldn’t have drafted Michael Wacha.
It hurt a lot at the time, and to not have him return to St. Louis until last season, fans had time to heal. When Pujols made his triumphant return, the nostalgia and magic was everywhere and it only got better when he hit a home run.
The now 40-year-old Pujols is still under contract until after the 2021 season, but he came out recently and said that he was still interested in playing beyond 2021. Right off the bat, fans and outlets started to swirl around this idea that a reunion is possible.
Right away, it makes a ton of sense for nostalgia purposes. Pujols is near a ton of career milestones, including the all-time home run record. How amazing would it be to see him set records in a Cardinals jersey again?
More from St Louis Cardinals News
- Cardinals Rumors: 3 pros and cons of signing Carlos Rodon
- Cardinals: Here is Willson Contreras’ first message for St. Louis fans
- How do the St. Louis Cardinals stack up with Willson Contreras?
- Cardinals: The insane asking price the Athletics had for Sean Murphy
- St. Louis Cardinals: Ask me anything with Josh Jacobs – 12/8
On the field, Pujols still has shown he can be productive. Although he had a .244 batting average and was 12% below average as a whole, he still hit 23 homers had the skills in the clutch. With runners in scoring position in 2019, Pujols hit .294 with a .913 OPS. Looking at that, are you surprised he still drove in 93 runs on the year?
He still came up big when it mattered, something he’s had his entire career.
Pujols would be coming to the Cardinals at age 42 in 2022 though. At this point, Pujols’ legs are about gone. He can’t run, his fielding has fallen off too. Thankfully though, by 2022 we will likely have the DH regularly in both leagues. This whole deal is predicated on there being a DH because there’s no way to argue it’s smart to argue for Pujols to come here if there’s no DH.
If there is a DH, Pujols makes a great candidate to play against lefties based on his splits. In 2019, he batted .261 with an .830 OPS against lefties. That will play for sure. Pujols will go through two more years of decline, but again, if these splits hold as they have the past couple years, he will be serviceable against lefties.
Again, I’m not arguing that Pujols should come back for a ton of money for three years. I think if the DH is here, bringing in Pujols to play against lefties (platoon with Nolan Gorman) would satisfy every sort of nostalgic, storybook ending fans could want.
Assuming the team keeps Yadier Molina and potentially Adam Wainwright around until then, things could get fun.
The thought of having a team with Pujols, Molina, and Wainwright on it again would be fantastic for nostalgia and leadership purposes. Those three are three of the best leaders St. Louis sports has seen, and their knowledge is unfathomable. At the right price (for all three), the Cardinals would be lucky to get the gang back together, even if it’s just for one last season.
Even if Pujols can’t contribute a ton, there is still plenty here to argue that he should be back regardless. Pujols has been such an influential player here, letting him finish his career in the uniform he started in would mean a ton to him as well as the city of St. Louis.
Pujols wouldn’t be asking for a ton of money, and it seems that from most reasonable fans if there was any bad blood between Pujols and St. Louis, it’s gone. The Machine would be gladly welcomed back by this fan.