MLB

Cardinals interested in reunion with longtime first baseman Albert Pujols, per reports

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The St. Louis Cardinals appear open to a reunion with longtime first baseman Albert Pujols, according to various media reports. The Athletic’s Katie Woo noted on Friday the Cardinals had conversed internally about the concept, while MLB Network’s Jon Heyman tweeted Saturday that Pujols was “drawing interest” from St. Louis.

Pujols, 41, spent the first 11 seasons of his career with the Cardinals. During that time, he batted .328/.420/.617 (170 OPS+) with 445 home runs. Pujols won three Most Valuable Player Awards and made nine All-Star Games with the Cardinals. He was also a part of two World Series victories. He departed in free agency to join the Los Angeles Angels after the 2011 season.

Pujols’ stint out west didn’t go nearly as well. In parts of 10 seasons, he hit .256/.311/.447 (108 OPS+) with 222 home runs. He made just one All-Star Game appearance as a member of the Angels, and received MVP consideration only twice (both in a down ballot capacity). 

Pujols, who was designated for assignment by the Angels earlier this month after hitting .198/.250/.372 in 92 plate appearances, cleared release waivers and became a free agent on Thursday. The Angels are responsible for what remains on his $30 million salary for this season, meaning that the Cardinals would have to pay only the prorated league minimum to secure his services. 

It’s unclear how Pujols would fit on the Cardinals roster, as the first-place Cardinals have a productive first baseman in Paul Goldschmidt and Pujols offers no defensive versatility. In theory, Pujols could serve as Mike Shildt’s top pinch-hit option off the bench, though it’s unknown if that role would satisfy him and his reported desire for a bigger role.

At minimum, a return to St. Louis would allow Pujols to receive the kind of send-off his storied career deserves.



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