Jon Heyman predicts that the St. Louis Cardinals will sign Albert Pujols.
When Albert Pujols was released by the Los Angeles Angels this season, the St. Louis Cardinals were immediately connected to him.
Rightfully so. He had a Hall of Fame career with the Cardinals, emerging as one of the best first basemen in baseball history, and was an instrumental part of their success for 11 seasons. Once again, Pujols is scheduled to become a free agent at the end of the regular season — and Jon Heyman predicted on MLB Network that he would return to St. Louis.
The fit between Pujols and the Cardinals makes a lot more sense now than it did during the season. One, the universal designated hitter is expected to be implemented in 2022, meaning that Pujols can DH and not take any at-bats away from Paul Goldschmidt at first base.
Two, Pujols has shown that he remains a capable bat against left-handed pitchers. In 136 at-bats against left-handers this season, he is hitting .294/.336/.603 with 13 home runs. He has struggled mightily against right-handers and is nothing more than a platoon player at this stage of his career, but his success against lefties makes him a valuable asset in a bench and/or DH role.
Lastly, it would allow Pujols to potentially end his career with Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright, two players he came up with in St. Louis. The two are likely to retire at the end of the 2022 season and want one last chance at winning a World Series with the Cardinals. It’s possible, perhaps even likely, that Pujols will feel the same way and want to join them for one last postseason push.
It remains to be seen if the interest will be mutual, but the Cardinals did explore Pujols when he was let go this season. With the fit being much more obvious, and Molina and Wainwright likely to push for a Pujols reunion, president of baseball operations John Mozeliak may have no choice but to sign Pujols to a cheap one-year contract.
What a way for all three players to go out that would be.