Tracking new gigs for Pujols, Cruz and other Latino talent with new teams this spring

The adoption of the designated hitter rule in the National League has extended the careers of Albert Pujols and Nelson Cruz, a pair of 42 year old MLB icons who will have an opportunity to thrill their fans for at least one more season.

For King Albert, it will definitely be a journey down memory lane as he returns to the St. Louis Cardinals, the team he will most certainly represent in Cooperstown despite his blockbuster 10 year free agent deal with the Los Angeles Angels. Then in the latter part of the 2021 season, the Dominican born super star moved a few miles up the freeway to join the Dodgers during the playoff run. But this season in St. Louis will be special.

“This is it or me,” confirmed Pujols, who signed a $2.5 million deal to finish up his 21st year in the big leagues.

Albert is also thankful for a reunion with his friend and former teammate Yadier Molina, the longtime 39 year old Cardinal catcher who is also likely to be a first ballot Hall of Fame candidate.

“I’m happy that he’s here,” says Molina, the pride of Puerto Rico in the twilight of his career. “It should be a fun year.”

While Pujols is in swan song mode, Nelson Cruz is still considered a hired assassin and one of the most feared professional hitters in baseball. While the Dominican will be 42 on July 1st, his reputation was solid enough to land a $15 million deal with the Washington Nationals with an option for 2023. Over 17 years, Cruz has launched 449 bombs with six different teams, and the veteran has always been known as a solid leader and clubhouse guy. A seven time MLB All-Star with four Silver Slugger awards, Cruz will likely have HOF numbers upon retirement. However, a 50 game suspension for PED use in 2013 will be a red flag for the selection committee.

Latinos wearing different hats for 2022

The Minnesota Twins blockbuster signing of Carlos Correa plus trading for Gary Sanchez and Gio Urshela shocked the hell out of most of us, and by now you’re probably aware of Javier Baez, “El Mago,” inking a six year, $140 million with the Detroit Tigers. A.J. Hinch’s club also bolstered the pitching staff by agreeing to a five year deal with Eduardo Rodriguez, the former Boston Red Sox lefty. Here are some other top tier Hispanic players wearing different uniforms.

Derek Jeter may have said adios, but the Miami Marlins have taken steps to improve an anemic offense by signing Jorge Soler and Avisial Garcia. The Atlanta Braves sought the services of the Cuban born outfielder after Ronald Acuña went down last year, but played only 52 games with the World Champions. The often moody Soler agreed to a three year, $36 million deal with the Fish, but can opt out in 2023 and 2024 if he so desires. Garcia, who played in Milwaukee the last two seasons, signed a five year, $60 million pact. The 30 year old Venezuelan will be a happy camper in Miami and hopefully can motivate Soler to play to his true potential.

White Sox lefty ace Carlos Rodon had a career year in 2021 despite past surgeries that had clouded his future. So Carlos was cut loose by Chicago and committed to a two year, $44 million pact with the San Francisco Giants. If you recall, Rodon nearly threw a perfect game last April against Cleveland, settling for a no-hitter. After some tough times, it’s nice to see the 29 year old Cuban-American get rewarded with the Giants, a team that depends on good pitching to be successful.

In other notable transactions, Mets bad boy Jeurys Familia has moved on to the Phillies with the hope of adding strength to a sub par bullpen. Veteran reliever Alex Colome will play in Colorado this season as the Rockies new closer.

Brewers catcher Manny Piña, 35, agreed to a two year, $8 million contract to strengthen backstop duties in Atlanta. Colombian Donovan Solano, who played well with the Giants in 2021, signed a $4.5 million contract to join the Reds. Solano, primarily a second baseman, will obviously play a different position since ROY Jonathan India has that position nailed down. And in a head-scratcher trade, the Rockies sent their talented left fielder Raimel Tapia to the Blue Jays in exchange for Randal Grichuk.

The best news though, is that baseball is back. There will be a full 162 game season, and many teams will open up the new season on April 7th. I’m excited, and hope y’all are too.

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