Nolan Arenado had just finished his interview with reporters when he interrupted a St. Louis Cardinals’ public relations employee and asked, “Can I say one more thing?”
What ensued was a 15-second statement of Arenado expressing his admiration for Albert Pujols, a Cardinals legend who was recently designated for assignment by the Los Angeles Angels.
“Albert Pujols, I love you man,” Arenado said, via Katie Woo of The Athletic. “You’re one of the greatest to ever play this game. I hope you get to go out the right way. I’m a huge fan. I hope you hear this one day because you’re my favorite player.”
Rarely do we get to hear a player open up about their heroes/idols growing up, so it was refreshing to hear Arenado open up about what Pujols means to him. And it comes on the heels of rampant speculation of Pujols possibly coming back to St. Louis, with Arenado’s comments only adding fuel to the fire.
But it is highly unlikely, and that might be putting it lightly, that Pujols comes back to the Cardinals. He is a shell of the player he was during his prime in St. Louis. Even then, the club has Paul Goldschmidt at first base, and Pujols would be relegated to a bench role with the Cardinals — something he was not willing to do with the Angels and something he would not want to do elsewhere, even in St. Louis.
Perhaps this is a different story if the National League implemented the designated hitter once again. But Pujols, who has 667 career home runs and is said to be chasing 700, would not be afforded enough at-bats in St. Louis to have a reasonable chance to reach that milestone.
There is no doubting the impact that Pujols had on the Cardinals and baseball as a whole. Just look at Arenado’s comments. But if his career continues elsewhere, and there are questions whether any team will be interested, it will most certainly not be in St. Louis.