Report: Cardinals have had ‘increased conversations’ with, could bring back three-time MVP Albert Pujols

Could Albert Pujols be making a return to the team that drafted him 23 years ago and where he spent the first 11 seasons of his future Hall-of-Fame career?

Since bursting onto the scene as a rookie in 2001, Pujols has crafted one of the best careers in MLB history. He was selected in the 13th round of the 1999 MLB June Amateur Draft by the Cardinals and was the team’s Opening Day left fielder two seasons later.

During his 11-year run with St. Louis, “The Machine” racked up scores of accolades including a Rookie of the Year award, three MVPs, nine All-Star honors, six Silver Sluggers, two Gold Gloves, one batting title, an NLCS MVP, and two World Series crowns. While with the Cardinals, Pujols also led the league in runs scored five times, OPS+ four times, total bases four times, home runs twice, and lead the league in numerous other categories.

According to Woo, if Pujols were to return to his original club, it wouldn’t be as an everyday player, but as a “right-handed bench bat”.

“If president of baseball operations John Mozeliak decides to bring back Pujols to St. Louis, it would be under the following pretenses: Pujols would not be a starter and would not upend Paul Goldschmidt’s playing time at first base. He would primarily be used off the bench as a late-inning power bat,” Woo wrote. “He could also serve as a mentor for Juan Yepez, a promising 24-year-old reserve first baseman and sometimes corner outfielder who is hoping to make the big-league club when camp breaks.”

Pujols’ case for a contract and subsequent playing time would conceivably be helped by the universal designated hitter rule in place for the 2022 season. Pujols has made 572 career appearances as a DH, the majority coming in the 2016 and 2017 campaigns with the Los Angeles Angels.

After capturing his second World Series title, the native of the Dominican Republic signed with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in December 2011 and spent the next nine-plus seasons with the Angels — making an All-Star team in 2015 — before being designated for assignment by the organization in May 2021. Pujols was signed by the Los Angeles Dodgers four days later and was on the team for the rest of last season.

Pujols leads all active players in career home runs with 679 and is fifth all-time, trailing only Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, and Alex Rodriguez.

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