Unsurprisingly, Angels first baseman/designated hitter Albert Pujols has no plans to retire prior to 2020 or ’21 – the final two seasons of his 10-year, $240MM contract. Pujols, who will turn 40 during the upcoming offseason, told Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register: “Whether it’s tomorrow or in spring training, if I feel one day the fire is not there, it doesn’t matter how much money is left on my contract, it’s time to go. But I don’t see that happening. Because this year this is the most fun I had because I was healthy and I was able to do things I wasn’t able to do in the past.” Pujols underwent multiple surgeries a year ago, causing his season to end in August, but the future Hall of Famer has hung in there from start to finish in 2019. While his overall production hasn’t been good, Pujols has managed to hit 23 home runs, leaving him four short of tying the legendary Willie Mays (660) for fifth on the all-time list. If healthy, Pujols may have a shot at reaching the hallowed 700-HR mark sometime before his contract runs out. He’ll earn $59MM during that two-year span.
Elsewhere around baseball…
- Still just one game up on the Brewers in the NL Central, the Cardinals might not even make it to the NLDS this year. If the Redbirds do get that far, though, it’s “unlikely” injured right-hander Michael Wacha will factor into their plans, according to general manager Michael Girsch (via Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch). Wacha, who suffered a mild strain of his pitching shoulder Wednesday, won’t be able to pick up a ball for at least five to seven days, per Hummel. Fortunately, Wacha doesn’t have any structural damage, nor is this shoulder injury related to previous issues he has dealt with in that area. Manager Mike Shildt is optimistic Wacha will pitch again this season, but it appears that will require the Cardinals to advance to the NLCS.
- Yankees slugger Edwin Encarnacion still hasn’t returned from the left oblique strain he incurred Sept. 12, and it doesn’t look like a sure bet he’ll play in either of the team’s last two regular-season games. Encarnacion said Friday that he’s not “mentally over” the injury, Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News relays. It remains to be seen whether he’ll be able to overcome the issue by the time the Yankees’ ALDS matchup against the Twins starts Oct. 4.
- The Phillies have folded in back-to-back years under manager Gabe Kapler, leading to speculation that the club could fire him at season’s end. Kapler spoke about his status Friday, telling Matt Breen of the Philadelphia Inquirer and other reporters: “It’s not something I’m thinking about right now. It’s not something I’m worried about and haven’t had any conversations about it.” Kapler at least “seems safe for the weekend,” Breen writes, but the Phillies could choose to go in another direction after that. The Phillies finished 80-82 under Kapler in his rookie campaign as a manager in 2018, and even after an incredibly active offseason, they’ll wind up with an almost identical record this year. They’re an even 80-80 with two games remaining.