There were hundreds of valid reasons to be depressed about the abrupt end of the 106-win Los Angeles Dodgers‘ 2021 season, but one emotionally-driven footnote involved the loss of Albert Pujols’ potential last chance to add to his trophy case.
Especially after we all watched Pujols lead a hobbled Justin Turner back to the clubhouse, you couldn’t help but feel like this star-studded roster had let their “tío” down.
Perhaps, though, this isn’t the end of the MLB road for Pujols, who will turn 42 prior to next season?
LA’s 2021 season felt like the perfect storm for a late-career ring chase, considering the aging star somehow ended up filling a crucial role on a contender after it seemed like he’d always be stuck on a second-division club for all of his remaining years. Perhaps the lefty masher showed enough during the ’21 campaign to lock on with another top-tier team next year, though, instead of taking the bag with a rebuilder and playing out the string.
That idea gained more traction when we learned Thursday that his offseason plans include an active stint in the Dominican Winter League, something he’s never done before.
Pujols was traded to Escogido Baseball Club, an historic franchise founded in 1921. Previously, he’d been property of Gigantes del Cibao, but had never played a minute for them. Clearly, this is something he wants to check off before he hangs ’em up … but he’s also probably getting prepped for one more go at a big-league title too, right?
Dodgers: Is Albert Pujols coming back for 2022?
Now, learning Pujols plans to participate in Dominican ball for the first time feels like the opening salvo of a retirement tour, but it definitely doesn’t feel like a curtain call.
And, again, this is all possible because Pujols proved beyond a doubt with the Dodgers that he still belongs in this league; his 101 OPS+ on a part-time basis showed he can hack it as an average bench bat who matches up well with lefties of all types (.294 with 13 bombs in 146 PAs against southpaws). What more can you ask for?
Logic dictates the St. Louis Cardinals will be all over this for one last-ditch reunion, and we can’t say we hate it. Anything that gives Tío Albert another crack at a ring is a-ok with us.
For now, we’ll just be scoping through the offseason LIDOM streams, wishing it was still our guys he was hugging in celebration.
Is that so wrong?