Oakland A’s Pitcher Frankie Montas Acquired by New York Yankees

Frankie Montas is heading to the Northeast…

The 29-year-old Dominican professional baseball right-handed, starting pitcher has been acquired by the New York Yankees, alongside part-Latino closer Lou Trivino in a deal with the Oakland Athletics.

Frankie MontasThe A’s are receiving left-handers Ken Waldichuk and J.P. Sears, right-hander Luis Medina and second baseman Cooper Bowman from the Yankees. Waldichuk, 24, was the fifth-highest-ranked prospect in the Yankees’ farm system, according to MLB.com.

The American League-best Yankees have had a busy deadline, acquiring outfielder Andrew Benintendi and rookie reliever Scott Effross before solidifying an already strong rotation and bullpen with the acquisitions of Montas and Trivino.

The trade for Montas is the second involving a highly sought-after starting pitcher this week, following Seattle’s acquisition of right-hander Luis Castillo from the Cincinnati Reds for a four-prospect package.

Montas, who is not eligible for free agency until after the 2023 season, has shown flashes of excellence since signing with Boston in 2009. He was traded to the Chicago White Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers before moving to Oakland, where he blossomed over the past six seasons into the pitcher who this season has 104⅔ innings of 3.18 ERA ball with 109 strikeouts, 28 walks and a dozen home runs allowed.

“His level of talent, especially with how he’s pitched the last couple years, just excited to get him in the mix,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “He’s got the full arsenal and stuff you look for top of the rotation guy. Gone out and proved last couple years he is that kind of caliber pitcher.”

A shoulder injury sidelined Montas for a mid-July start, but he returned with three shutout innings, followed by a five-inning, two-earned-run start against Houston. That was enough of a sample to draw a broad range of teams — large-market and small.

”I think we’re comfortable with where he’s at shoulder-wise,” Boone said.

Montas joins a rotation headed by MLB All-Stars Gerrit Cole (9-3, 3.30 ERA) and Nestor Cortes (9-3, 2.53 ERA) that has faltered of late.

Left-hander Jordan Montgomery is 0-2 with a 5.36 ERA in his last eight starts and right-hander Jameson Taillon is 1-1 with a 5.04 ERA in his last five. Luis Severino has not pitched since July 13 because of a lat strain and was moved to the 60-day injured list Monday along with right-handed reliever Miguel Castro, out since July 10 with a strained right shoulder.

Going into Monday night’s series opener against Seattle, Domingo German had an 8.22 ERA in his first two starts after recovering from a right shoulder impingement.

By winning the Montas sweepstakes, the Yankees add a starter who will slot into a playoff rotation with a fastball-slider-splitter pitch mix that has proved effective all season. Montas went at least five innings in 15 of his first 16 starts, with the only exception being a game in which he got hit in the hand on a comebacker and left the game after 1⅔ innings.

Trivino, a 30-year-old right-hander, is 1-6 with a 6.47 ERA — double his 2021 figure — and 10 saves in 13 chances. Right-handed batters are hitting .289 against him this year while lefties are hitting .392 with nine walks in 60 plate appearances.

“Little bit down year statistically but we don’t think it lines up with what we’re seeing on some underlying things and who we think he is,” Boone said. “He’s been a very good reliever for them on some playoff-caliber teams.”

Trivino joins one of the better bullpens in the majors, but one that has struggled with injuries of late. Chad GreenMichael King and Zack Britton are all on the 60-day injured list with Green and King expected to miss the rest of the season.

Waldichuk, who is pitching at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, is 6-3 with a 2.71 ERA overall in 17 starts for two clubs in the Yankees’ minor league system this season and has 116 strikeouts in 76⅓ innings.

Sears, 26, is 3-0 with a 2.05 ERA in 22 innings for the Yankees in the majors this season and is 1-1 with a 1.67 ERA in 43 innings in Triple-A. Medina, 23, is 4-3 with a 3.38 ERA in 17 starts for Double-A Somerset this season.

Bowman, 22, is hitting .217 with eight home runs and 35 RBIs for Class-A Hudson Valley this season.

The Yankees also optioned right-hander Clarke Schmidt to Scranton and promoted right-hander Carlos Espinal from the RailRiders.

Giancarlo Stanton Named MLB All-Star Game’s Most Valuable Player

It’s a (most-valuable) performance to remember for Giancarlo Stanton

The 32-year-old part-Puerto Rican professional baseball designated hitter and New York Yankee outfielder was named MVP 2022 MLB All-Star Game at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday, after leading the American League to a 3-2 win over the National League squad.

Giancarlo StantonStanton earned the honor after going 1-for-2 with a two-run homer that tied the game in the fourth inning.

It was the American League’s ninth consecutive win over the National League.

Byron Buxton of the Minnesota Twins followed with the go-ahead solo blast. Stanton, a Los Angeles native, was given the nod in his hometown.

Stanton was playing in his fifth career All-Star Game and his first since 2017, which is the same season he was named NL MVP. He is now the third Yankees player ever to be named All-Star Game MVP, joining Derek Jeter in 2000 and Mariano Rivera in 2013.

Tuesday’s game was expected to be an offensive showcase but instead was dominated by pitching. The NL took a 2-0 lead in the first inning but failed to record another hit until the eighth inning. The AL totaled eight hits, but never really threatened to put more runs on the board outside of the fireworks in the fourth inning.

For Stanton, Tuesday’s performance continued a strong 2022 season. He is batting .237 this year with 24 home runs, 61 RBI and a .835 OPS. He’s been a key part of New York’s success.

The Yankees have the best record in the majors at 64-28 with a 13-game lead in the AL East. With the second half of the season on the horizon, New York has its eyes set on the postseason as it hopes to make it back to the World Series since its last championship win in 2009,

With Stanton helping to lead the charge, the Yankees are in position to do just that.

Juan Soto Wins This Year’s Home Run Derby

Juan Soto is officially a batting champion…

The 23-year-old Dominican professional baseball outfielder won $1 million on Monday with a swing that’s worth much more.

Juan SotoShaking off trade rumors that threatened to sully his MLB All-Star week, Soto beat a legend and held off a rookie to win the Home Run Derby and the big-money prize that accompanied it in front of a sold-out Dodger Stadium crowd.

After recently turning down a 15-year, $440 million contract extension from the Washington Nationals, Soto arrived in Los Angeles early Monday morning with his future in doubt ahead of the August 2 trade deadline. He emerged unbothered. When asked before the Derby whether he was going to win it, his answer was characteristically Soto: “Probably.” And on that prediction he came through, vanquishing Albert Pujols in the semifinals and Julio Rodriguez in the finals.

“I’m a lone survivor,” Soto said. “I’ve been going through all this stuff, and I’m still here standing up and with my chin up, all the time. And that shows you I can go through anything.”

Anything, in this case, included a day of answering questions he can’t possibly answer, including whether the Nationals will trade him before the August 2 deadline or where he might wind up. Soto instead worried about his powerful left-handed swing, shooting balls to all fields and finishing the finals with 19 home runs to the 18 of his Dominican Republic countryman Rodríguez.

Juan SotoAt 23 years, 266 days old, Soto became the second-youngest Derby champion — just a day older than 1993 winner Juan Gonzalez.

Until the finals, the Derby had been the latest episode of the J-Rod Show. Rodriguez, the precocious 21-year-old Seattle Mariners outfielder, ambushed the field Monday night, ousting the two-time defending champion and smashing 81 home runs.

The first hitter of the night, Rodriguez set the tone for his showing with 32 home runs in his first-round matchup against the Texas Rangers Corey Seager. Then came Pete Alonso, the New York Mets slugger who won the last two competitions in 2019 and 2021 but mustered only 23 home runs in the semifinals, well short of Rodriguez’s 31.

Then came his matchup with Soto, against whom, Rodriguez said, he used to play Call of Duty games. Rodriguez was better at COD. Soto, at least on Monday, was superior at HRD.

“What did I show the fans?” Rodriguez said. “Who I am, I guess. They know a little bit now.”

Rodriguez, who is earning the MLB minimum salary of $700,000 this year, received a $500,000 bonus as the runner-up.

Soto was locked in from the beginning, beating Cleveland Guardians third baseman Jose Ramirez in the first round and St. Louis Cardinals great Pujols in the semifinals.

Pujols, 42, is in his final season — and upset Philadelphia‘s Kyle Schwarber, the No. 1 seed, in the first round, beating him in an overtime period. He couldn’t keep up with Soto, whose 482-foot home run in the first round was the longest of the night.

“I wasn’t sure if I should beat him or let him beat me, but just the respect — I respect him a lot,” Soto said. “Even though I beat him at the end of the day, it’s just a competition. He knows how much I’m proud of him and how much talent he brings to all the generations and advice that he gives to us.”

Whatever Soto’s future, wherever he winds up, whether he’s moved before this deadline or after, he said he would walk away from this All-Star week sure of one thing.

“I will be a Home Run Derby champion forever,” he said.

J.D. Martinez Added to MLB All-Star Game Roster

J.D. Martinez is getting his all-star moment after all…

The 34-year-old Cuban American professional baseball player, a designated hitter for the Boston Red Sox, has been added to the MLB All-Star Game rosters, according to the league.

J.D. Martinez Martinez is part of a roster of new additions that includes Garrett Cooper, and an Francisco Giants ace Carlos Rodon.

Martinez replaces Houston Astros slugger Yordan Alvarez and becomes the third Boston Red Sox player to land on the American League roster along with Xander Bogaerts and have been added to the All-Star rosters, MLB announced Tuesday.

Cooper steps in for reigning National League MVP Bryce Harper. The Philadelphia Phillies‘ star has a fractured thumb. Cooper gives the Miami Marlins three All-Stars as he joins teammates Sandy Alcantara and Jazz Chisholm Jr. 

Rodon was one of the more notable snubs when rosters were announced, but he ends up making his second All-Star appearance by replacing Milwaukee Brewers closer Josh Hader, who has family responsibilities.

Rodon (8-5, 2.70 ERA) was selected by the league to fill in for Hader, while Martinez and Cooper were next up in voting at their positions. This is the fifth time Martinez has been an All-Star, but the first time for Cooper.

Dodger Stadium will host the MLB All-Star Game next Tuesday night at 7:30 pm ET.

Bad Bunny to Compete in This Year’s MLB All-Star Celebrity Softball Game

Bad Bunny’s getting in the game…

The 28-year-old Puerto Rican superstar has been added to the 2022 MLB All-Star Celebrity Softball Game roster, which is set to take place on Saturday, July 16, at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.

Bad Bunny

The “Me Porto Bonito” singer was announced on Monday (July 11) along with a batch of new artists added to the roster that are set to play ball.

Other new celebrities confirmed include actors Bryan Cranston and J.K. Simmons; rapper and chef Action Bronson; four-time all-star and two-time World Series Champion Hunter Pence; and two-time All-Star Shawn Green.

They join a lineup that already includes Quavo, JoJo Siwa, Anthony Ramos, Rob Lowe, Chloe Kim, CC Sabathia and Simu Liu, among others. The first 10,000 fans to enter the ballpark — gates open at 2 p.m. local time — will receive a special All-Star Player Replica Ring presented by FTX, according to a press release.

Game night will culminate with a special performance from chart-topping artist and California-native Becky G for the All-Star Saturday Extra Innings concert presented by MGM Rewards. Tickets are now available here.

The All-Star Celebrity Softball Game, which will be produced by MLB Network, will stream live on YouTube, Peacock, Pluto TV, Bleacher Report and across MLB’s social platforms. MLB Network will air the game on Monday, July 18, at 10:30 p.m. ET, marking the first time MLB Network has televised it.

News of Bad Bunny taking the field comes as his latest album, Un Verano Sin Ti, captures a fourth nonconsecutive week at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart (dated July 16).

The set holds at No. 1, notching its first set of back-to-back weeks in the lead. The effort earned 111,000 equivalent album units in the U.S. in the week ending July 7 (down 4%), according to Luminate.

Later this month, the hitmaker will kick off his summer tour with three back-to-back concerts at El Coliseo de Puerto Rico.

Albert Pujols to Participate in This Year’s MLB All-Star Game

Albert Pujols is getting another All-Star moment…

The 42-year-old Dominican-American professional baseball first baseman and designated hitter for the St. Louis Cardinals will take part in the 2022 MLB All-Star Game, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has announced.

Albert PujolsBut he isn’t the only living baseball legend getting called up…

Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers will also participate.

Pujols, Cabrera and Hall of Famer Hank Aaron are the only players in MLB history to register 3,000 hits, 500 home runs and 600 doubles.

“I am delighted that Albert Pujols and Miguel Cabrera have agreed to participate in the All-Star Game,” Manfred said in a statement. “Albert and Miguel are two of the most accomplished players of their generation. They have also represented the baseball traditions of the Dominican Republic and Venezuela with excellence for the last two decades. Albert and Miguel are two all-time greats whose achievements warrant this special recognition.”

It’s the 11th MLB All-Star selection for Pujols, who is in his 22nd MLB season. He ranks fifth in MLB history with 683 home runs and ninth with 3,326 career hits.

“If there is one game for the fans to celebrate the history and longevity, it’s the All-Star Game,” said Chicago White Sox manager Tony LaRussa, who was Pujols’ manager in St. Louis for seven years. “Anything like that [being selected to participate in the All-Star Game], I’m all in favor of.”

Cabrera, 39, reached 3,000 career hits earlier this season. He’ll be appearing in his 12th All-Star Game.

The slugger called Pujols “one of the best hitters I’ve ever seen in my life.”

“To be part of this together is going to be great,” he said Friday.

The All-Star Game will be held at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Tuesday, July 19.

Robinson Cano Signs Deal with San Diego Padres

Robinson Cano has landed a padre deal…

The 39-year-old Dominican-American professional baseball second baseman and veteran infielder has signed with the San Diego Padres.

Robinson Cano

The New York Mets released the 39-year-old Cano on Sunday after designating him for assignment a week earlier. He was not in the Padres’ lineup for Friday’s 11-6 win over the Atlanta Braves.

The Padres plan to use Cano as a left-handed bat off the bench. Acting manager Ryan Christenson said he could get some occasional starts at second base and designated hitter.

“I’ve got a lot left in the tank,” Cano said. “I know I can still play this game and just go out on top.”

Entering Thursday’s games, Padres designated hitters were batting .206 with two home runs and 12 RBIs this season. Both home runs came via Luke Voit, who bats right-handed, in Wednesday’s 7-5 loss to the Chicago Cubs.

When Cano plays second base, it would move Jake Cronenworth to shortstop and Ha-Seong Kim to the bench.

Cano sat out last season while serving his second suspension for performance-enhancing drugs. He batted .195 (8-for-41) this season with one home run, three RBIs and a .501 OPS in 43 plate appearances for the National League East-leading Mets.

He is owed $44,703,297 by the Mets from the remainder of the 10-year, $240 million contract he signed with the Seattle Mariners. He has lost $35,741,935 because of the two drug suspensions.

He will earn a prorated share of the $700,000 minimum with the Padres.

Cano, who was acquired in a multiplayer trade with the Mariners that also sent closer Edwin Diaz to New York, ended up playing 168 games for the Mets, batting .269 with 24 homers, 72 RBIs and a .765 OPS.

An eight-time MLB All-Star, Cano has a .302 career batting average with 335 home runs, 1,305 RBIs and an .842 OPS in 17 seasons. He has 2,632 hits, including 571 doubles.

Miguel Cabrera Becomes First Venezuelan Baseball Player to Join MLB’s 3,000-Hit Club

Miguel Cabrera makes Venezuelan MLB History while joining a new elite club…

With a single against the Colorado Rockies on Saturday, the 39-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball player and Detroit Tigers designated hitter became the 33rd member of the 3,000-hit club and only the seventh player in major league history to achieve the milestone and hit 500 home runs.

Miguel CabreraHe got No. 3,000 in the first inning against pitcher Antonio Senzatela, a fellow Venezuelan, by grounding an opposite-field single to right field.

Cabrera immediately raised his right arm as he headed toward first base.

The crowd of 37,566 at Comerica Park gave him a rousing ovation and chanted “Miggy! Miggy!” while fireworks were shot out of the scoreboard. Rockies shortstop Jose Iglesias, who played with Cabrera on the Tigers team, came over to give his former teammate a big hug.

By then, all the Tigers were streaming from the dugout to greet the newest member of baseball’s elite 3,000-hit club. Moments later, Cabrera went behind home plate to embrace his mother, wife, son and daughter on the field.

“Special numbers,” Cabrera said after the game. “It’s like something crazy you can’t describe. To be in this position, I always say thank God for giving me this opportunity.”

Cabrera soon returned to first base but didn’t stay there long. He scored on a three-run homer by 22-year-old rookie Spencer Torkelson, who has taken over as the Tigers’ regular first baseman with Cabrera in the role of designated hitter.

When the inning ended, the scoreboard flashed “Congratulations Miggy” and Cabrera emerged from the dugout to wave to fans who had been rewarded with the highlight they came to see.

“It brings a lot of memories from the first time I was here in Detroit,” Cabrera said of the crowd. “I remember we always had 35,000, 40,000 people every night. It was good to see the fans come back to the stadium like that. It was very emotional. I know what the fans mean to our games and to our team because they support us a lot. I really happy to see all the fans.”

Cabrera added a two-run single in the sixth inning before being replaced by pinch runner Eric Haase. The Tigers went on to win 13-0. Cabrera said it meant “a lot” for him to reach the milestone in a win.

“Because I always say, if we’re winning, I know the results are going to be good,” he said. “We did it today, I’m pretty happy.

After reaching 2,999 hits Wednesday, Cabrera was 0-for-3 on Thursday against the New York Yankees. He was intentionally walked in the eighth inning, his fourth and final plate appearance of the game. Cabrera’s pursuit of history was delayed Friday, as the Tigers’ scheduled series opener against the Rockies was rained out, made up as part of a Saturday doubleheader.

Cabrera is the first Venezuelan-born player and seventh Latino to reach the 3,000-hit mark, a list that includes Hall of Famers Roberto Clemente and Rod Carew as well as Rafael Palmeiro, Alex Rodriguez, Adrian Beltre and Albert Pujols. Luis Aparicio, the only Venezuelan-born player in the Hall of Fame, had 2,677 career hits.

“When you’re going through it, you’ve got to kind of try to appreciate it because his impact is so big across this organization and across so many players, that we just got to sit back and soak it up,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said. “And I think for him as a person, as a player who’s gone through ups, downs, everywhere in between. This is certainly a highlight.”

Cabrera, who won the Triple Crown and the first of back-to-back MVP awards in 2012, became the 28th member of the 500-home run club in August. Only six other players have 3,000 hits and 500 homers: Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Palmeiro, Pujols, Rodriguez and Eddie Murray.

Cabrera’s Triple Crown win in 2012, having led the American League in batting average, home runs and RBIs, was the first in 45 years. The 11-time MLB All-Star has won four batting titles in his career.

Cabrera was 20 years old when he made his Major League Baseball (MLB) debut with the Miami Marlins in 2003. He helped them win the World Series that year.

The Tigers acquired Cabrera in a 2007 trade, with Dontrelle Willis also going to Detroit in a deal for Andrew Miller and Cameron Maybin. Cabrera had 842 hits at the time.

He is the third player to get his 3,000th hit while with Detroit, joining Ty Cobb and Al Kaline.

Jose Ramirez Agrees to Historic 5-Year, $150-Million Contract Extension with Cleveland Guardians 

Jose Ramirez is extending his time in Ohio…

The 29-year-old Dominican professional baseball player, an MLB All-Star third baseman and the Cleveland Guardians have agreed on a five-year, $124 million contract extension, according to ESPN.

Jose RamirezThe deal includes a full no-trade clause, per sources. With this year and the pickup of a 2023 option, Ramirez is guaranteed $150 million.

Cleveland set the table for this move during the offseason, picking up Ramirez’s $12 million contract option on November 5 after an MVP-caliber campaign for Ramirez. The formal transaction allowed the franchise some room for longer-term negotiations once baseball’s work stoppage ended.

The five-year, $124 million extension is the largest in franchise history, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. The Guardians had been one of five Major League Baseball teams that had never agreed to a $100 million contract with a player. The Oakland AthleticsPittsburgh PiratesKansas City Royals and Chicago White Sox are the others.

Ramirez, who has finished in the top three of the American League MVP voting three times in his career, was one of few bright spots for Cleveland’s inconsistent offense during the team’s final season with its old nickname. He hit .266 with 36 home runs, 103 RBIs and 27 steals in the final year of what was a team-friendly $26 million, four-year contract.

“I would really like to stay,” Ramirez said after Cleveland finished 80-82 last year, the club’s first losing season since 2012. “But there’s no rush. I would really like to stay here the rest of my career. But we have to wait to see what happens. I would love to see what they have to offer.”

The veteran’s future has been a hot topic during spring training in Goodyear, Arizona, and manager Terry Francona was not afraid to open up about it last month.

“I think Jose knows how we feel about him,” Francona told reporters during a March 17 media availability. “In this age of blogging and the internet, there is so much out there that we could make ourselves crazy. I hope it doesn’t make him crazy. I don’t think it does.”

Chris Antonetti, Cleveland’s president, also addressed his star infielder’s future in Arizona last month.

“Without getting into specifics, I do think we’ll have some internal conversations,” Antonetti said about the new deal. “The timing of that is really hard to say when we’ll be able to do that, just because of the compressed nature of the offseason.”

Ramirez is the only position player left from Cleveland’s 2016 pennant-winning team, which lost the World Series in seven games. He has been in the majors since 2013, spending his entire career with Cleveland. In his first season, he appeared in just 15 games, but he has topped 120 games in five seasons since — and has stayed relatively healthy.

Francona expects to use Ramirez in the No. 3 spot in the batting order this season, telling reporters last month that it was safe to “ink” him in that spot moving forward.

The Guardians will open the year Thursday against the Kansas City Royals. In that game, right-hander Shane Bieber will become the 12th pitcher in franchise history to make three consecutive Opening Day starts.

Opening Day will also see the return of Francona to regular-season action for Cleveland after missing time because of toe surgery.

“It’s been a hard couple years, there’s no getting around it,” Francona said. “And I don’t want to act like a big baby because I know there’s people that have had way worst bouts than I had. But it’s not been easy.”

Albert Pujols Returning to St. Louis Cardinals for Final Season of Career

It’s the last hurrah for Albert Pujols

The 42-year-old Dominican professional baseball first baseman and future Baseballl Hall of Famer has signed a one-year deal, reportedly worth $2.5 million, with the St. Louis Cardinals.

Albert PujolsPujols is returning to the city where he launched his Major League Baseball career back in April 2001. His goal: to help St. Louis make a run for another World Series championship.

Pujols is hoping to summon the same magic he had during his previous run with the Cardinals from 2001-11, when he produced two championships, three MVP awards and a 10-year streak of hitting at least .300 and smashing 30 or more home runs.

“For me, I think I’m here for a reason,” said Pujols, who earlier in the day emerged from beyond the right-field fence at Roger Dean Stadium and walked down the foul line to join his Cardinals teammates in the dugout in their 2-1 loss to the Astros. “They believe I can still play this game and they believe I can help this organization win a championship. And myself, I believe in that, too.”

Pujols — considered one of the greatest players in the rich history of the Cardinals, right alongside of Hall of Famers Stan Musial, Bob Gibson, Lou Brock and Ozzie Smith — rejoins the franchise at a time when catcher Yadier Molina is entering his 19th and final season, and pitcher Adam Wainwright could be about to exit as well.

Wainwright, who allowed two runs on four hits in five innings on Monday, believes Pujols will be on a mission to show he has plenty left in the tank as a hitter.

“He seems like he’s in good shape, and he’s motivated,” said Wainwright, who noted that Pujols woke him up from his pregame nap on Monday with a “bear hug.”

“Any time Albert is motivated, it’s a very, very dangerous thing,” Wainwright said. “He’s motivated to show people that he’s not too old or over the hill. I don’t think he wants this to be nostalgic; he wants to go out and prove something. That chip is a good one to put on your shoulder. It’s cool to be loved, that’s a nice thing, and nobody is more beloved than he is. But he wants to prove himself.”

Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt Jr. saw an immediate response from the addition of Pujols — he spotted a fan wearing a No. 5 jersey when he pulled into the team’s headquarters Monday morning. DeWitt Jr. called the signing “the highlight of the spring.”Top of Form

Bottom of Form

Pujols enters the season 21 home runs shy of 700 — with much of that damage coming from his historic run with the Cardinals for 11 seasons. He hit .328 and clubbed 445 home runs with the Redbirds, was named an MLB All-Star nine times and won the Gold Glove Award twice.

Pujols, who left St. Louis in 2011 to sign a 10-year, $240 million free-agent contract with the Los Angeles Angels, had emotional returns to St. Louis in recent years while playing for Anaheim and the Los Angeles Dodgers. He said the numerous standing ovations he received from Cardinals fans — both before and after homering off current Cardinal Dakota Hudson in 2019 and J.A. Happ last season — allowed him to dream again about possibly returning to St. Louis to cap his career.

“There was always hope, so you never close the door,” Pujols said. “The organization never closed the door on me, and I never closed the door, either. It’s a great opportunity. Everything always happens on God’s time, and it’s the perfect time right now. I’m back here and I’m really excited.”