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Legendary first baseman and likely Hall of Famer Albert Pujols on Monday announced he will retire following the 2022 MLB season, telling reporters, “This is it.”
Pujols will finish his career where he started, as he agreed to a one-year $2.5 million contract with the St. Louis Cardinals, reuniting the franchise with one of its most decorated players of all time. He will wear uniform No. 5, which the team never reissued following its 2011 World Series championship season.
“We are pleased and excited to have Albert return to the Cardinals for the upcoming season,” said Cardinals Chairman Bill DeWitt, Jr., in a statement. “This reunion with Albert is a wonderful opportunity for not only him and the Cardinals, but also for our great fans, the St. Louis community, our players and staff, and everyone connected to the St. Louis Cardinals organization. We look forward to seeing Albert in the ‘Birds on the Bat’ once again, and wearing his familiar uniform number 5.”
The signing will give Pujols, 42, an apparent retirement tour with the team that drafted him in 1999 and for where he played his first 11 years in the MLB.
“Seldom does one get to share in watching or being a part of ‘living’ history,” said Cardinals’ President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak. “From the day we called Albert’s name in the draft room back in 1999, to now, as we set our sights on 2022, this reunion just makes sense in so many ways. We are all looking forward to reuniting Albert with his Cardinals family, and for the fan in all of us, including myself, this feels like looking through the pages of a favorite scrapbook or baseball card album and seeing those images and memories jump off the pages.”
Pujols made his debut for the Cardinals in 2001 at age 21 and immediately made an impact. He won the Rookie of the Year award in 2001, made the All-Star team and finished fourth in NL MVP voting.
His unprecedented success continued for 11 seasons with the Cardinals, as he compiled a .328 batting average, 445 home runs and 1.329 RBI with the team. He earned NL MVP honors in 2005, 2008 and 2009 — and won two World Series titles in 2006 and 2011.
Despite not playing until 2001, Pujols holds the 2000s decade NL “Triple Crown” for batting (.334), home runs (336) and RBI (1,112).
After celebrating the title in 2011, Pujols signed a 10-year, $240-million deal with the Los Angeles Angels.
Pujols played in 1,181 games for the Angels, where he batted .256, hit 22 home runs and drove in 783 runs. Pujols was released by the Angels last May, just a few months before his contract ended.
Pujols played for the Los Angeles Dodgers this past season, and the Cardinals imagine he will play a similar role for them.
While his production isn’t what it once was, Pujols will have the chance to be the right-handed designated hitter against left-handed pitchers or come off the bench in a deterrent roll in late innings, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
The move is also a reunion for Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol, who has known Pujols since the coach was drafted by St. Louis as a player in 2007, he told Fox News Digital last week.
Over his career, Pujols is a 10-time All-Star and six-time Silver Slugger. He currently ranks fifth on the MLB all-time home run list, with 679. He is 18 homers shy of passing Alex Rodriguez for fourth all-time.
The Cardinals open the season at Busch Stadium on April 7 with a matchup against the Pittsburgh Pirates.