Albert Pujols has signed a one-year deal with the St. Louis Cardinals, one that will bookend his 22-year MLB career with stints in St. Louis. He spent the first 11 years with the Cardinals and now he's back for 2022, which will be his final MLB season before retirement.
"This is my last round," Pujols said Monday, confirming he will retire after the 2022 season.
News of the two sides finalizing an agreement broke overnight. And before the deal was even announced as being official, Pujols was back in a Cardinals uniform and given a standing ovation by the fans on hand for Monday's spring training action.
After the game, Pujols and high-ranking members of the Cardinals organization held a press conference to officially welcome him back into the fold.
"Seldom does one get to share in watching or being a part of 'living' history," Cardinals president John Mozeliak said in a statement. "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."
Monday was a nostalgia hat trick for longtime Cardinals fans, too, because Adam Wainwright was starting on the mound with Yadier Molina behind the plate. The three were first teammates on the 100-win Cardinals in 2005. They won the World Series together in 2006 and 2011 (though Wainwright was injured in 2011). It's widely suspected that all three will retire after the 2022 season, with Pujols confirming his end of the matter during the aforementioned press conference. (For an idea of what kind of milestones he could chase down before then, consult Matt Snyder's analysis of his historical standing here.)
Others around the game have expressed their joy in seeing Pujols return to St. Louis, too.
"That's the way his career should end," Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts told USA Today's Bob Nightengale. Roberts managed Pujols for most of last season, wisely deploying him in a platoon role against left-handed pitching. Chicago White Sox skipper Tony La Russa, who was Pujols' boss for much longer than Roberts was, added: "I'm ecstatic for him. I'm ecstatic for the organization."