Albert Pujols will play a 22nd major league season, returning to St. Louis, where he played the first 11 years of his Hall of Fame career, per multiple reports. The Cardinals are signing Pujols to a one-year contract, per both Katie Woo at The Atheltic and Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Woo reported earlier Sunday that the Cardinals were having “increased conversations” with Pujols, who won his three MVP awards and two World Series with St. Louis.
After getting released by the Angels five weeks into the season, the 41-year-old Pujols signed with the Dodgers on May 17, eventually settling into a part-time role for the first time in his 21-year career.
Pujols thrived with his limited duties, hitting .303/.347/.606 with 10 home runs and a 149 wRC+ against left-handed pitching. He also excelled as a pinch-hitter, hitting .378/.415/.541 in the role. Pujols totaled 41 pinch-hit plate appearances with the Dodgers, matching his total in 20-plus seasons with the Cardinals and Angels.
“I don’t take anything for granted. I take my at-bats,” Pujols said during the NLCS. “I treat my game like it’s the last game of my career, and that’s since day one, when I got the opportunity to wear a uniform with the Cardinals in 2001.”
Pujols, who turned 42 on January 16, enters 2022 with a chance to move up on several all-time leaderboards:
- 5th place in home runs (679), 17 behind Alex Rodriguez (696), and 21 homers shy of 700. Pujols hit 17 home runs in 2021.
- 4th place in total bases (6,042), with Willie Mays (6,080) in third and Stan Musial (6,134) in second. Pujols had 119 total bases in 2021.
- 3rd in runs batted in (2,150), 63 behind Babe Ruth’s official total (2,213) for second. Pujols had 50 RBI in 2021.
- 12th in games played (2,971), with a decent chance to reach fourth (Rickey Henderson, 3,081). Pujols played in 109 games in 2021. Only nine players have played in 3,000 MLB games.
- 12th place in hits (3,301), reasonably close to 10th (Paul Molitor, 3,319).
- 14th place in runs scored (1,872), within striking distance of 12th (Lou Gehrig, 1,888).
- 9th in plate appearances (12,690), close enough to sixth (Cal Ripken Jr., 12,883).
- 8th in at-bats (11,114), within shouting distance of sixth (Eddie Murray, 11,336).
Pujols’ intention to keep playing became clear when he joined Escogido in October, playing in the Dominican Republic winter league for the first time in his career.
“I think Albert can do whatever he wants to do, and if he wants to play next year he’s certainly going to be a really good contributor to whatever ball club,” manager Dave Roberts said during the playoffs. “He’s a winning baseball player and he’s been huge for us.”