The St. Louis Cardinals did not pursue Albert Pujols following his midseason release, but they did briefly consider it.
After Albert Pujols was released by the Los Angeles Angels this season, the question that immediately followed was whether the St. Louis Cardinals should pursue him.
Fans begged for it. The Cardinals, meanwhile, did not end up pursuing Pujols, 41, though they considered it, president of baseball operations John Mozeliak told the LA Times.
Fans still want Pujols, evidenced by their “We want Albert!” chants during the first game of the Dodgers-Cardinals series at Busch Stadium. Mozeliak would not comment on the possibility of Pujols returning in 2022, saying “That’s very presumptuous on many parts, so I’m not even going to engage in that. I mean, one player [Wainwright] is not even re-signed, one is currently playing for another club.”
It’s not even clear if Pujols will want to return next season, though the odds of that are a lot higher after he’s hitting and .261/.303/..479 with 11 home runs and looked rejuvenated with the Dodgers. But his willingness to return to St. Louis would hinge on 1) what his role would look like; 2) if the Cardinals are in position to compete for a World Series and 3) if he can have enough at-bats to give him a realistic shot at hitting 700 home runs, as he currently sits at 678 entering Tuesday.
While it’s not clear if Pujols wants to return next season, those who have spent time around the veteran first baseman in St. Louis hopes a reunion happens. Tony La Russa, who managed Pujols with the Cardinals, told The Athletic that “I hope he comes back next year and I hope he comes back as a Cardinal.”
Bringing Pujols back would give Adam Wainwright, one of his closest friends, even more reason to return after the Cardinals re-signed Yadier Molina. Having the three legends on the same team for one last season may be too good for the Cardinals to pass up, especially as it comes to filling the stands at Busch Stadium, evidenced by a packed Busch Stadium on Monday.