Albert Pujols and the Los Angeles Dodgers were a match made in heaven during the 2021 season. When the Angels released the future Hall of Famer, the baseball world was shocked he would only be traveling a few miles to continue his career.
But the veteran’s contract expired after the year ended and he’s now a free agent, currently hanging out in the Dominican Winter League, which is a good indication he’ll be playing in MLB again in 2022.
Sadly, we’re here to tell you that it won’t be with the Dodgers. And it’s not us being pessimistic … we’re just connecting the dots, and it doesn’t totally make sense.
First of all, the Dodgers lost plentiful talent before the lockout halted transactions. Corey Seager and Max Scherzer are gone. The futures of Clayton Kershaw and Kenley Jansen are unclear. Pujols is simply a low priority at the moment and whenever a new CBA is stamped.
Don’t expect Albert Pujols to return to the Dodgers for the 2022 season.
On that note, the Dodgers need to improve their depth, and it certainly does not start with Pujols, who only played 26 postseason innings across 11 games when Max Muncy was on the shelf for the rest of the year. The “backup” first baseman was hardly a backup when it mattered most.
Secondly, though we don’t know if it’s 100% true, but we caught wind of a universal DH not coming to MLB in 2022, based on the reports in November that focused on the negotiations between the owners and players. If that’s not happening, then the Dodgers have even less of a reason to bring back a one-dimensional player who they only really used against lefties last year.
And lastly, we have the Freddie Freeman rumors. Should the Dodgers import the Atlanta Braves free agent and re-configure the infield, there will be little need for one season of Pujols essentially wasting a spot on the bench. With Muncy still in the fold (in this scenario, he would move to second base but would be the undisputed backup first baseman since Gavin Lux can play second), why would the Dodgers need Freeman, Muncy, Matt Beaty and Pujols as options? Far too many for a position that doesn’t need ample depth.
Pujols’ true value to the 2021 Dodgers was providing another one-of-a-kind leadership voice for arguably the best team in baseball … but that’s not exactly what 2022 will bring unless there’s a way the front office can properly replenish the near-irreplaceable losses while also revamping their depth and bullpen.
It’s not out of the question Pujols returns in 2022, but a lot of the right dominos would have to fall to make it happen.