Angels' Albert Pujols on Playing Beyond 2021 Season: 'Haven't Closed That Door'

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistMay 2, 2020

Los Angeles Angels' Albert Pujols (5) hits against the Tampa Bay Rays during a baseball game Monday, Sept. 16, 2019, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

Los Angeles Angels first baseman Albert Pujols is open to continuing his playing career beyond the expiration of his current contract. 

According to ESPN's Alden Gonzalez, Pujols said that playing beyond 2021 remains a distinct possibility despite the fact that it's the final year on his deal:

"I don't think about it that way. It's my last year under contract, but that doesn't mean I can't keep playing. I haven't closed that door. I'm taking it day by day, year by year, but you haven't heard from my mouth that I'm going to retire next year, or that it's going to be my last year, or that I'm going to keep playing. I haven't said any of that. When that time comes, we'll see. Just because you have one year left on your contract doesn't mean it's your last year. It could be, but it could not be. God hasn't put that in my heart yet."

Pujols, who is now 40, spent the first 11 years of his career with the St. Louis Cardinals before signing a 10-year, $240 million deal with the Angels in 2011. He is scheduled to earn $29 million this season and $30 million in 2021. 

The 2020 MLB regular season had been scheduled to begin in late March, but play was put on hold before Opening Day due to the coronavirus pandemic. MLB is still working toward having a season in 2020 and weighing several options, all of which would likely result in teams playing less than the scheduled 162 games.

Pujols is undoubtedly one of the greatest players in MLB history with 10 All-Star nods, three MVP awards, two World Series titles, two Gold Gloves, six Silver Slugger awards, a Rookie of the Year award and a batting title to his credit.

For his career, Pujols owns a batting average of .300 to go along with 656 home runs, 2,075 RBI, 3,202 hits and 1,828 runs scored.

Pujols isn't the same player he once was, and he is especially limited in the field and as a baserunner, but he still put up solid numbers last season with a .244 batting average, 23 homers and 93 RBI.

If Pujols continues to play beyond his current deal, he has a chance to move even further up some of the MLB all-time lists. He is already 15th in hits, sixth in home runs and tied for fourth in RBI.

Pujols is four home runs behind Willie Mays for fifth place on the all-time list, 44 away from becoming one of only four players to hit at least 700 and 106 away from tying Barry Bonds' all-time record of 762.

In terms of RBI, Pujols is already one of five players with at least 2,000, is only 11 behind Alex Rodriguez for third and 222 behind Hank Aaron for the all-time record.

Pujols may have to play for a few more years in order to challenge the home run and RBI records, but if he does decide to keep going, he could still interest some American League teams as a potential option at designated hitter given his ability to hit for power and drive in runs even at an advanced playing age.