The St. Louis Cardinals can (and should) bring Albert Pujols back

St. Louis Cardinals legend Albert Pujols was released Thursday afternoon in the final year of his contract with the Los Angeles Angels. There’s only one right move to be made.

Fans of the St. Louis Cardinals were left bitter when legend and long-time Cardinal Albert Pujols signed with the Los Angeles Angels following the 2011 season. As the years have passed, the good feelings between one of the greatest players of all-time and the fanbase have been restored.

With the Angels releasing Pujols in the midst of the tenth and final year of his contract today, the Cardinals have a chance to do something incredible and resign him – I think they should.

First, just look at this. Remember when Albert visited two summers ago? How much fun was that series? Now imagine having this every night:

Look, I’ll be honest. I grew up with Albert. I was five, but I remember being at this game like it was yesterday. He was the best player in baseball and one of my favorite people in the world for the first eleven years of my life. Of course, I want to see him finish his career wearing the Birds on the Bat. But I wouldn’t argue for this move if it didn’t make sense.

It’s not just nostalgia that makes Pujols a good fit. This season, Albert has five home runs and a .622 OPS in only 86 at-bats. Is he the same slugger he once was? Unfortunately not. But as a terrifying bench bat? I love John Nogowski, but Albert would immediately be the best right-handed bench the St. Louis Cardinals have. Here’s proof from this season that he can have a major impact on every game:

While Pujols’ defensive ability has regressed, he was still able to fill in at third base for a few innings this season. And with the Cardinals boasting one of the better defensive teams in the league this season, he wouldn’t be required to do much.

Albert also makes sense as leader and clubhouse guy. You think he doesn’t have any advice for young players? Mike Trout got to learn from Albert, who says Dylan Carlson wouldn’t benefit? I bet Nolan Arenado would like to pick the brain of Pujols, too. Seriously, I challenge you to find a part of the game where Albert wouldn’t find a way to help the St. Louis Cardinals win!

I don’t know how much the Cardinals would need to pay him. I don’t know if his contract with the Angels even allows Albert to sign with another team. What I do know is that 99.999% of Cardinal fans would support this move. Albert Pujols is a Cardinal icon, and now that he is available, I want nothing more than to see him at Busch Stadium for one last ride.

Is this an overreaction? Maybe. Should I instead be writing an article celebrating a legend as he retires? Quite possibly. But until he makes it official, the Cardinals should be calling Albert Pujols to come home and rejoin his former teammates, Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina. It makes sense for the team, for the fans, and for the history of the game.