After 13 seasons in the Major Leagues and 18 years in professional baseball, right-hander Jake Westbrook has decided to retire, he said today in an interview with Rob Rains of STLSportsPage.com. Westbrook says he is looking forward to spending time with his four children and wife Heather:
"I’m excited about the next part of my life and that’s being home with the kids and my wife Heather and spending time with them and going to all of the things I haven’t had a chance to do over the last 18 years in the spring and summertime. Being home is going to be fun."
Westbrook tells Rains that he entered the season preparing to pitch another season but was only 50-50 on whether or not he would actually follow through on that plan. "The interest that I was getting wasn’t significant enough for me to go through the grind of another year and be away from my family," Westbrook said.
Originally selected by the Rockies with the 21st overall pick in the 1996 draft, Westbrook signed with Colorado out of high school but didn't make his big league debut until 2000 with the Yankees. The Rockies traded him to the Expos, who flipped him to the Bombers in a trade that netted Hideki Irabu. Westbrook would appear in just three games with the Yankees before being traded to the Indians, with whom he would spend the next nine seasons of his career.
A 2010 trade to the Cardinals in a three-team deal also involving the Padres propelled Westbrook to a World Series Championship in 2011, which he called the best thing to happen to him in baseball:
"...getting traded to the Cardinals was probably the best thing that happened in my career. It’s such a storied organization and the atmosphere I witnessed there, and being in the playoffs all those years. Getting a chance to pitch in the World Series and winning game six in 2011 was pretty special and something I will always have."
Westbrook's career will come to a close with a 105-103 record, a 4.32 ERA, 965 strikeouts and 571 walks in 1747 2/3 innings at the big league level. Among 147 pitchers to have thrown 1000 innings since 2002, Westbrook (and his sinker) produced a 58.7 percent ground-ball rate that trails only Brandon Webb and Derek Lowe in that time. The 36-year-old has earned more than $71MM in his career (including his signing bonus out of the draft). We at MLBTR extend our best wishes to Westbrook and his family in his post-baseball life.