Even if Albert Pujols isn't voted into the 2022 MLB All-Star Game, the veteran slugger could still suit up for the National League at Dodger Stadium later this month.
A new clause in the Collective Bargaining Agreement allows commissioner Rob Manfred to select an additional player to each roster in recognition of their career achievements, according to The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal.
"In addition to the 32 players elected and selected to the All-Star Game, the Commissioner may choose to add one player that he selects to each League’s roster, in recognition of each player’s career achievements," the clause states, per Rosenthal. "If special circumstances warrant, the Commissioner may select more than one player to each league’s roster."
It wouldn't be surprising to see Manfred select Pujols to the NL roster as this will be his last season in MLB. He confirmed in March that he would be hanging up the cleats after the 2022 campaign.
"This is it for me," Pujols said in March, per The St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Derrick S. Goold. "This is my last run."
Pujols agreed to a one-year, $2.5 million deal to return to the Cardinals for the 2022 campaign. He began his Hall of Fame career in St. Louis in 2001, earning nine All-Star selections, three MVP awards, six Silver Sluggers, two Gold Gloves, one batting title and two World Series titles.
The 42-year-old also slashed .328/.421/.617 with 445 home runs and 1,329 RBI in 1,705 games in his first stint with the Cardinals.
Pujols left the Cardinals ahead of the 2012 season, signing a 10-year, $254 million contract with the Los Angeles Angels. He spent nine and a half seasons in Anaheim from 2012-21, slashing .256/.311/.447 with 222 home runs and 783 RBI in 1,181 games.
The Angels then traded him to the Los Angeles Dodgers last season, and he slashed .254/.299/.460 with 12 home runs and 38 RBI in 85 games. However, Pujols has struggled at the plate this season in his return to St. Louis, slashing .189/.282/.320 with four home runs and 17 RBI in 43 games.
In addition to Pujols, it's reasonable to believe Detroit Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera would be a candidate to the join the AL roster.
The 39-year-old will also likely be headed to the Hall of Fame following a historic career that is set to end after the 2023 season. He said in August 2021 that he would play two more seasons before calling it quits.
"My right knee is really bad," Cabrera told ESPN (via Evan Petzold of the Detroit Free Press). "I need to take care of this in the offseason and prepare myself for next season. I say two more years. I think that's enough. I will be happy with 20 years in the big leagues if I can make it. Thank God for giving me this opportunity. Two more years and I'm done."
Cabrera began his career in 2003 with the then-Florida Marlins. He spent five seasons with the franchise, earning five All-Star selections and two Sliver slugger awards before signing with the Detroit Tigers ahead of the 2008 campaign.
In 15 seasons in the Motor City, Cabrera has earned seven All-Star selections, two MVP awards and five Silver Slugger awards. He's hitting .309/.386/.523 with 367 home runs and 1,308 RBI in 1,935 games in Detroit.
The Venezuelan is actually also amid a solid 2022 campaign, slashing .300/.338/.364 with three home runs and 27 RBI in 68 games.
The 2022 MLB All-Star Weekend runs from July 15-19 and will take place at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.