The St. Louis Cardinals made a mistake not signing Albert Pujols
At the time, many fans thought the St Louis Cardinals should sign Albert Pujols. It sure looks like they were right.
When Albert Pujols was released by the Los Angeles Angels earlier this season, the St. Louis Cardinals were connected to him for obvious reasons. His ties to the team and city. His historic numbers that have him guaranteed to make the Hall of Fame. And the Cardinals’ obvious need for another bat as their offense continued to underperform.
And yet, the Cardinals never showed much interest. Pujols ended up signing with the Los Angeles Dodgers — and the Cardinals’ decision not to sign him, let alone pursue him, looks like a massive mistake.
Pujols has a .791 OPS this season, which ranks fourth on the Dodgers. You read that right. Pujols, who is 41, is among the best hitters on a team that features Mookie Betts, Cody Bellinger, Trea Turner, Corey Seager and Justin Turner. In 62 games (157 at-bats), Pujols is hitting .268/.314/.478 with 10 home runs and 33 RBI, with his 113 OPS+ being his highest since the 2016 season.
There clearly would have been a place for Pujols on the Cardinals, even with Paul Goldschmidt as the everyday first baseman. Pujols has thrived off the bench in Los Angeles and could have had a similar role in St. Louis. His playing time would have been lesser since the Dodgers needed a right-handed hitting first baseman against left-handed pitching, but having his bat as the first option off the bench instead of, say, Andrew Knizner, Lars Nootbaar or Jose Rondon would have been a very solid upgrade.
Pujols likely would have been open to it considering that one of his best friends, Yadier Molina, is still with the Cardinals. The team is still contending, too, which is what Pujols sought after being released by the Angels. Now, the Cardinals are 12 games back in the division and have less than a 4 percent chance of making the playoffs.
Of course, Pujols wouldn’t have single handedly put the Cardinals in contention for the division title. But the decision not to sign him, let alone pursue him as a free agent, looks like an oversight by president of baseball operations John Mozeliak.