In a season of middling production off the bench for the Dodgers, Albert Pujols ultimately proved to one of the bright spots for LA after joining the team in May. At the time, the move was considered a head-scratcher. The 41-year-old Pujols had just been released by a really bad Angels team and had seen a few seasons pass since his last productive campaign. Still, the Dodgers took a flier and it paid dividends right away.
In 85 games with LA, the future Hall of Famer posted a .254 average with 12 home runs and 38 runs batted in. Against left-handed pitching, he was one of the top hitters in baseball with an average over .300 with the Dodgers. Additionally, he excelled off the bench hitting .305 with a .821 OPS over 50 games between LA and Anaheim.
Add it all up and it’s easy to imagine that tío Albert is not done. On Friday, he confirmed as much. The veteran is suiting up to play in the Dominican Winter League and met with media in the Dominican Republic where he talked about his future in MLB.
Albert Pujols talked to the media in the Dominican Republic on Friday. He wasn't asked if he's retiring or playing again in 2022. But he did have this to say:
"I’ve always said that I’m going to retire when I feel it's time. I don’t think that my time has come yet."
— Juan Toribio (@juanctoribio) October 29, 2021
MLB.com’s Juan Toribio added that Pujols’ Winter League stats aren’t expected to change his mind on playing next season.
Notably, Dodger manager Dave Roberts was asked his thoughts on Albert’s future in the big leagues before LA’s NLCS exit last week. In Dave’s mind, the 21-year veteran can really do whatever he wants next year.
“I think Albert can do whatever he wants to do and if he wants to play next year he’s certainly going to be a really good contributor to whatever ball club. You learn not to bet against Hall of Fame ballplayers because they understand what it takes to have success and they understand how their bodies, skill set might have changed or diminished a little bit because of age, which happens to everyone, but how to still be productive. He’s a winning baseball player.”
In all likelihood, the Dodgers might not look into re-signing Pujols for 2022. Of course, crazier things have happened. With the designated hitter expected to be implemented league wide, the slugger will have a larger choice of clubs to join via free agency. Rumors have linked him to a reunion season with the St. Louis Cardinals — an organization he hit 445 of his 679 home runs with.