According to Mark Feisand of MLB.com, future Hall of Fame slugger Albert Pujols officially signed his retirement papers today, capping off a glittering 22-year career. Pujols had previously stated that 2022 would be his final season, but after a resurgent final year for the Cardinals, this news confirms his departure.
Pujols will be remembered as one of the game’s greatest sluggers, hitting 703 home runs in a career that included three MVP awards and eleven All-Star appearances. The 42-year-old had a stunning final season in St. Louis, where he spent much of his career, hitting.270/.345/.550 with 24 home runs, becoming only the fourth player in history to join the 700-club.
The Cardinals selected Pujols in the 13th round of the 1999 draught, and he made his debut in 2001. He started hitting right away, hitting.329/.403/.610 with 37 home runs on his way to Rookie of the Year honors and a fourth-place finish in NL MVP voting.
That would set the tone for one of the great slugging careers, as Pujols terrorized National League pitchers in St Louis for the next decade. Between 2001 and 2010, Pujols never finished a season with a batting average below.300 or a home run total below 30, and he only had one season with an OBP below.400.
Over his first eleven seasons with the Cardinals, he amassed an astounding 86.6 bWAR, firmly establishing himself as a St Louis legend and a sporting great.
He signed a one-year, $111 MM contract extension with the Cardinals in 2004, which proved extremely profitable for the team and delayed his free agency until after the 2011 season. When he hit the open market, it was the Angels who landed him on a ten-year, $240MM deal after the Cardinals topped out at a nine-year deal.
It was the third-largest contract in MLB history at the time. While Pujols had a few years of strong production that earned him down-ballot MVP votes, the deal was mostly a disappointment for the Halos, and he was never the offensive juggernaut he was in St Louis. Pujols hit.256/.311/.447 in ten years in Anaheim and was worth only 12.8 bWAR.
The Angels let him go early in the 2021 season, and he ended up with the Dodgers for the rest of the season. He was expected to retire after the 2021 season, but the Cardinals brought him back for a $2.5MM farewell season, and he didn’t disappoint. He’ll be a favorite for NL Comeback Player of the Year, and his retirement, combined with that of fellow Cardinals legend Yadier Molina, will make 2022 a memorable season in St Louis.
His resurgent final season helped the Cardinals make the playoffs in 2022, but his career ended in a wildcard round series loss to the Phillies. Pujols didn’t hit much in that brief series, but he was a dominant force in postseason games throughout his career.
He hit 19 home runs and hit.319/.422/.572 in 88 postseason games. This included four World Series home runs between the Cardinals’ championship seasons of 2006 and 2011.
While Pujols’ retirement was not unexpected, it does bring an end to the career of one of the game’s great players. He’ll almost certainly end up in Cooperstown, but in the meantime, everyone at MLB Trade Rumors wishes Pujols the best in his retirement.