Signing Albert Pujols makes sense for St. Louis Cardinals
Signing Albert Pujols makes sense for the St. Louis Cardinals — on one condition.
The idea of signing Albert Pujols makes sense for the St. Louis Cardinals — on one condition. The National League needs to implement the universal designated hitter in 2022 and beyond.
The Cardinals currently have Paul Goldschmidt at first base and as he’s slashing .286/.355/.483 with 24 home runs and 82 RBI, they won’t be in any hurry to take away his at-bats. If anything, they’d like him to get more opportunities. Signing Pujols in the regular season, just after he was released by the Los Angeles Angels, would have taken at-bats away from Goldschmidt. It wouldn’t have made any sense.
But when/if MLB implements the universal DH (it feels like a matter of when), the Cardinals should strongly consider adding Pujols. After all, he has proven with the Dodgers that he still has plenty left in the tank, hitting .256/.301/.483 and he put that on display in his first appearance at Busch Stadium since 2019 by hitting a home run to left field.
Now, Pujols wouldn’t be the Cardinals’ every day DH. They could use it to give Molina, Goldschmidt, Nolan Arenado or another veteran player a day off in the middle of a grueling 162 game season. But having Pujols has a DH against left-handed pitching, who he is hitting .302/.336/.635 against with 13 home runs in 134 plate appearances this season, would make plenty of sense.
It’s a role that Pujols would likely accept, considering that’s essentially the role he’s playing with the Dodgers. While the Cardinals are not in the same class as the Dodgers, the front office could be inclined to spend big this offseason to entice Arenado not to exercise his opt-out after 2022, and could look to add a big name shortstop (Trevor Story?) to increase their postseason chances.
That, combined with playing one final season with Wainwright and Molina, might be enough to entice Pujols to come back to St. Louis in the offseason. And if the NL incorporates the universal DH, the Cardinals will have the role to make it happen.