Los Angeles Angels first baseman Albert Pujols has played 19 years in the Majors. For him to continue playing after his contract expires he may need some help.
Pujols has accomplished a lot in his 19 year Major League career. Other than the love of the game, what more does he have to play for? He has the hardware, including three MVP trophies, a Gold Glove, and a World Series ring. He has the accolades, including ten All-Star appearances and a spot in Cooperstown five years after he hangs up his cleats.
Surely he doesn’t have to chase milestones, having 656 home runs and 3,202 hits to his name. He currently ranks sixth on the all-time homers list, with the prospect of passing only Wille Mays (660) on the list before his contract expires next year.
In the extended layoff without baseball, Pujols was asked if he thought he’d retire after the following season when his contract runs out. He replied he hasn’t thought about it that way. Saying the end of the long term contract doesn’t mean he can’t sign a one year contract.
Pujols has given a lot to the game and has deserved the right to go out on his own terms. What is hard in a case like this is if his body goes out before his mind is ready to call it quits, his play could get ugly.
Pujols can still mash the ball, there is no question about that. However, after ten seasons of hitting over .300, he has nine in a row where he has hit under. The last three coming in at .241, .245, .244. His OPS hasn’t been above .800 since 2012 and fleet of foot he is not. He is baseball’s all-time leader in double plays grounded into.
When the Angels signed Pujols to the lucrative contract they had visions of pairing him with Mike Trout and being perennial playoff contenders. They have made the postseason just once, a 2014 first round exit quickly followed.
With the signing of Anthony Rendon to a healthy contract, the Angels have appeared to have moved on from Pujols as the Trout sidekick. Would they entertain bringing Pujols back on a one year contract?
Would the St. Louis Cardinals bring back Pujols to sell tickets for nostalgic fans? The Cards finished second in attendance last year and aren’t really in the position to use roster spots for the likes of a 41-year old player.
The list of teams lining up for his services may not be too long and the game hates when aging players outstay their welcome. Of course, these scenarios are if Pujols is not contributing as he has in the past. With his gradual decline, why would we think otherwise?
I’m sorry to say I don’t think Albert Pujols will have much left in the tank two years down the road, and I want him to go out on a high note. We’ll see what his body tells him then.