The idea of Albert Pujols playing one final season in a Cardinals uniform always seemed a bit fanciful, considering that Paul Goldschmidt now occupies first base in St. Louis, and that Pujols’ dropoff in production created doubt that he would even play beyond the 2021 season. However, Pujols has had a bit of a revival as a specialist against left-handed pitching, crushing southpaws to the tune of a .302/.336/.635 slash line and 13 home runs over 134 plate appearances this season.
As Benjamin Hochman of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes, signing Pujols in 2022 has some baseball value to a Cardinals team that may have a DH spot to work with in next year’s lineup. That is on top of the natural symbolism of bringing Pujols back for what would be his 22nd — and quite possibly final — MLB season in what Yadier Molina has already announced will be his own final season. If Adam Wainwright also re-signs with the team and decides to hang it up next winter (which is no sure thing given how well Wainwright continues to pitch), the 2022 season will carry a storybook feel for an entire era of Cardinals baseball, as well as a renewed charge towards another title.