Retirement Rumors

Rafael Furcal To Retire

Royals infielder Rafael Furcal has decided to retire, Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com reports on Twitter. The 37-year-old had been attempting a comeback bid in the Kansas City organization.

Furcal, who hails from the Dominican Republic, signed with the Braves as an amateur free agent in 1996. He hit the big leagues with Atlanta at age 22, won the Rookie of the Year Award, and ultimately spent six years there and another half dozen with the Dodgers during his prime.

Furcal posted nearly-identical batting lines over each of those stints — .283/.351/.406 in Atlanta, .284/.348/.409 in Los Angeles — though he obviously had some ups and downs over his first twelve years. Possessing surprising pop for his size, Furcal hit over 100 big league long balls and put up four-straight double digit campaigns.

One thing that never seemed to waver much was Furcal’s value on the bases and in the field. Both Fangraphs and Baseball-Reference credit him with better than thirty career wins above replacement, in spite of an approximately league-average bat, based upon those contributions. Furcal ultimately topped three hundred career steals.

Furcal’s later career was marred by injury. After joining the Cardinals in the middle of the 2011 campaign, he put up a solid .262/.323/.367 batting line in 748 plate appearances for St. Louis. But he was forced out of action late in the tam’s 2012 World Series run with a UCL sprain, and ultimately underwent Tommy John surgery that caused him to miss all of the following year.

Though the elbow injury did not prevent Furcal from making a run at a return, he made just 37 trips to the plate with the Marlins last year before hamstring issues ended his season. That leg muscle apparently let him down again in his more recent bid with the Royals, as Flanagan tweets that Furcal decided to call it quits after another hamstring problem arose.

All said, the somewhat disappointing end to his career does not mar its excellence. At his best, Furcal was among the most productive players in the league, and he was at least an above-average regular for much of his career. MLBTR extends its best wishes as he turns the page.


Bruce Chen Announces Retirement

Lefty Bruce Chen has announced on Twitter that he will retire from professional baseball. Chen, 37, was designated for assignment by the Indians on Saturday.

Chen struggled through 6 1/3 innings in two starts this year for Cleveland, permitting nine earned runs. He struck out four and walked one batter, but gave up 17 total hits — including three long balls.

Of course, Chen has long provided plenty of innings and flexibility to 11 total MLB clubs. The wily southpaw never relied much on velocity, working in the mid-80s in recent seasons. But that didn’t stop him from compiling over 1,500 innings in the majors.

All said, the Panamanian native compiled a 4.62 ERA with 6.7 K/9 against 3.2 BB/9 over 17 big league campaigns. Chen broke into the big leagues with the Braves at age 21. Atlanta signed him as an amateur way back in 1993.

Chen is, perhaps, most associated with the Royals, with whom he spent six seasons. His time in K.C. represented something of a late-career renaissance, as he compiled 5.6 rWAR in that span (in spite of a rough final campaign).

The Orioles arguably enjoyed Chen’s most productive overall campaign in 2005, when he racked up a career-high 197 1/3 frames while working to a 3.83 ERA. He ultimately spent three years with Baltimore, with his 343 2/3 innings with the O’s representing the second-most he logged with any single team.

Be sure to give a read to Chen’s Twitter timeline to read through his classy tip of the cap to the fans and teams he played for. MLBTR joins those around the game congratulating Chen on his career and wishing him luck in his future endeavors.


Boof Bonser Retires

Former Twins pitcher Boof Bonser says he has retired in an interview with Twinkie Town. (The news was initially reported in January on the blog Boston Sports For Life.) The 33-year-old Bonser last pitched competitively in 2014, when he made 12 appearances for Bridgeport in the independent Atlantic League. He last appeared in the big leagues in 2010.

The Giants took Bonser with the 21st overall pick in the 2000 draft, then sent him to Minnesota with Joe Nathan and Francisco Liriano in their infamous trade for A.J. Pierzynski. Bonser stuck in the big leagues with the Twins for the better part of three years, first as a starter and then as a reliever, before shoulder troubles caused him to miss the 2009 season. The Twins traded Bonser to Boston the following year, and he made brief appearances with the Red Sox and Athletics before spending several seasons in the minors. Bonser finishes his career with a 5.18 ERA, 7.2 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 in 416 2/3 big-league innings.



Quick Hits: Myers, Salty, Correa, Appel, Draft

Right-hander Brett Myers, who spent parts of 12 Major League seasons with the Phillies, Astros, White Sox and Indians, said in an interview with Section215.com that he’s enjoying retired life and believes that his playing days are likely over. Myers explained that over the final few years of his playing career, he missed spending time with his children, but he now is enjoying coaching his 10-year-old son’s baseball team. In his career, the former 12th overall pick posted a 4.25 ERA a 97-96 record, 40 saves, 7.3 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 in 1710 big league innings spent as both a starter and a closer. His playing days were also marred by off-field issues, including charges of domestic violence that were eventually dropped at his wife’s request, and an expletive-laced tirade aimed at a Phillies beat reporter whom he ultimately threatened with physical violence.

Some more notes from around the league…

  • Though Chris Iannetta has struggled tremendously with the bat in 2015, the Angels don’t consider Jarrod Saltalamacchia a fit, reports MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez. The 30-year-old Saltalamacchia cleared release waivers earlier today and is free to sign with any club. Gonzalez also adds that the Angels are hopeful that fellow catcher Drew Butera will clear waivers, giving them a chance to keep him in the organization following his recent DFA.
  • Astros GM Jeff Luhnow discussed the timelines for prospects Carlos Correa and Mark Appel with Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle, and Drellich notes that the 20-year-old Correa could very likely beat the 23-year-old Appel to the Majors. Luhnow acknowledged that Correa has a good chance of being promoted to Triple-A this month, once they see a bit more of how he reacts to facing teams and pitchers for the second time in Double-A. Appel, meanwhile, has struggled a bit at Double-A, and the GM said he’d like to see some consistently dominant outings from Appel before moving him up the Minor League ladder.
  • Brendan Rodgers of Florida’s Lake Mary High School is the first of three shortstops perched atop Keith Law’s list of Top 100 Draft prospects at ESPN.com (Insider subscription required and highly recommended, particularly for draft followers). Arizona’s Kevin Newman and Vanderbilt’s Dansby Swanson add a pair of college shortstops to the mix, while UC Santa Barbara righty Dillon Tate and prep lefty Kolby Allard round out the top five. Former No. 1 overall consideration Mike Matuella has dropped to 19th, as the Duke right-hander underwent Tommy John surgery earlier this spring. Last year’s No. 1 overall pick Brady Aiken sits 26th on Law’s list following his own Tommy John surgery.

Jeff Karstens Announces Retirement

Former Pirates and Yankes right-hander Jeff Karstens took to Twitter yesterday to announce that he has officially retired from the baseball.

Karstens, still just 32 years of age, hasn’t pitched in the Majors since 2012, as a series of shoulder injuries that culminated in 2013 surgery to repair the labrum and rotator cuff in his right shoulder slowed and ultimately ended his career.

Originally a 19th-round selection of the Yankees in 2003 out of Texas Tech, Karstens was traded to the Pirates along with Daniel McCutchen, Jose Tabata and Ross Ohlendorf in the 2008 trade that sent Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte to New York. In 2011-12, the San Diego-born Karstens made 41 starts and eight relief appearances for the Bucs, pitching to a solid 3.59 ERA with 5.8 K/9 and 1.7 BB/9 in 253 innings of work.

Though injuries prevented Karstens from stepping onto a Major League mound following that injury-shortened 2012 season, he was still able to pocket roughly $7.8MM over the life of a career that spanned parts of seven seasons. We at MLB Trade Rumors extend our best wishes to Karstens, as well his family and friends, as he enters his post-playing days.


Carlos Quentin To Retire

Mariners outfielder Carlos Quentin confirms that he will retire from the game, as Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports in a series of tweets. Quentin had been playing with Seattle’s top affiliate since inking a minor league deal, but left Tacoma last night.

Mar 10, 2015; Peoria, AZ, USA; San Diego Padres left fielder Carlos Quentin (18) looks on against the San Francisco Giants at Peoria Sports Complex. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Quentin, 32, has $8MM left on the deal that he originally signed with the Padres. San Diego shipped him to the Braves just before the start of the season, of course, as part of the salary swaps included in the Craig Kimbrel deal. Atlanta cut him loose in short order, eating the remainder of that contract.

The route being pursued currently would see Quentin retain his rights to that guaranteed money. Atlanta would have been able to earn some relief had Quentin continued playing, though that amount would not have exceeded the pro-rated portion of the Major League minimum salary.

The Mariners will technically grant Quentin his release, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (via Twitter), but that’s little more than semantics. Heyman notes that Quentin’s injuries will no longer allow him to play, which is the reason for his departure from Tacoma and his decision to retire.

The Mariners had hoped that Quentin would re-establish himself as a viable part-time bat, though obviously the team was not relying on that outcome and essentially took on no financial risk in signing him. Between 2008 and 2013, Quentin slashed a robust .260/.356/.503 with 136 long balls. But he has been slowed by injuries in recent seasons, making only 815 total plate appearances in that stretch.

Quentin confirmed in the press release that physical issues drove the decision to retire. “Over the past several days, it became clear to me that my injuries have taken too great of a physical toll for me to be able to perform at the level I expect from myself,” he explained.  “As a result, I believe it is the right time for me to walk away and to refocus my energy on the next chapter of my life with my family.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


John Buck To Retire

Catcher John Buck is retiring in order to spend more time with his family, the Braves announced. The veteran backstop had been in camp with Atlanta but did not figure to make the Opening Day roster.

Buck, 34, has played in eleven big league campaigns, amassing over 4,000 plate appearances and 1,000 games behind the plate. His .234/.301/.398 batting line and 134 career home runs are solid numbers for a catcher. A sturdy defender, Buck was a stabilizing force who saw the majority of the catching reps for his team in eight separate seasons.

After coming up with the Royals, Buck had his biggest season in a one-year stint with the Blue Jays in 2010. That year, Buck slashed .281/.314/.489 and swatted a career-high twenty long balls — excellent production while catching 118 games.

Buck landed a three-year, $18MM pact with the Marlins before the 2011 campaign, but never quite got back to his All-Star form. In addition to the teams already named, Buck ultimately spent time with the Mets, Mariners, Pirates, and Angels


Heath Bell To Retire

Veteran right-handed reliever Heath Bell, 37, has decided to retire, he tells MLB.com’s Corey Brock. Bell had been in camp with the Nationals on a minor league deal until his release yesterday.

Though Bell says he felt good this spring and believed he could still contribute at the big league level, family considerations drove his decision. “My kids wanted me home,” he said. “What’s more important: my kids or the big leagues? I’ve already accomplished more than I ever dreamed of. Now it’s time to help them accomplish their dreams.”

Bell, who spent time in the bigs in parts of eleven seasons, will be remembered most for his stint with the Padres. Over five years in San Diego, Bell tossed 374 innings of 2.53 ERA ball while averaging 9.4 K/9 against 3.2 BB/9. In his three seasons as the club’s closer, Bell also racked up 134 saves.

While Bell never regained that form after signing a three-year deal with the Marlins before the 2012 season, there is little question that Bell had a productive overall career. In total, he worked to a 3.49 ERA and logged over 600 frames. Bell broke into the league with the Mets, and also spent time with the Diamondbacks and Rays.

Bell says he may eventually pursue coaching and/or broadcasting, but for now is looking forward to working with his 11-year-old son’s ballclub. He will have plenty of time to ponder his past and his future over the next few days, Brock notes, as Bell is already in the midst of a cross-country RV trip back to his home in San Diego.

MLBTR wishes Bell, and his family, the best of luck in their new endeavors.


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Dontrelle Willis To Retire

Left-hander Dontrelle Willis, who was in camp with the Brewers on a minor league deal, has informed the Brewers that he will retire, tweets MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy. A neck injury has slowed him this spring, and the former Rookie of the Year had yet to get into a game.

Willis beat out Scott Podsednik and Brandon Webb for the 2003 NL Rookie of the Year Award at the age of 21 and helped the Marlins to their World Series victory that season. In his first four years in the league, the “D-Train” turned in a strong 3.44 ERA with 6.7 K/9 against 2.8 BB/9. Though he reached the 200-inning mark for a third straight season in 2007, however, Willis’ ERA spiked to 5.17, and he was traded to the Tigers alongside Miguel Cabrera that winter. Willis’ career never got back on track after that point, however, as the southpaw worked just 199 innings over the 2008-11 seasons, pitching to a 6.15 ERA with more walks than strikeouts.

Since the 2011 season — the last that he pitched in the Majors, Willis has pitched for minor league affiliates of the Giants (twice), Reds, Orioles and Angels in addition to a pair of stints in the independent leagues. He’ll retire with a 4.17 ERA in 1221 2/3 Major League innings and over $40MM worth of career earnings, per Baseball-Reference.com. We at MLBTR wish Willis well in his post-playing days.


Shawn Camp Announces Retirement

Shawn Camp, who pitched 11 seasons in the Majors, announced his retirement today.  Camp worked in the bullpens of the Royals, Rays, Blue Jays, Cubs, and Phillies, topping 70 innings in four different seasons.  Camp pitched 541 career games in total, including an MLB-leading 80 for the Cubs in 2012.

“I would like to thank all the great organizations I had the privilege to play for during my career,” Camp said through a statement.  “I also had the opportunity to play for some tremendous managers and coaches as well as play alongside some extraordinary teammates. I have been a part of professional baseball for the past 17 years and it’s in my blood. As such, I’ll be looking to pursue other opportunities within major league baseball in the future.  Most importantly, as I transition to the next chapter, I will get to spend more time with my family who has supported me beyond belief over the past 17 years.”

Camp told me his ultimate goal is to be a pitching coach one day, but he’s open-minded to any opportunities that may come in.  He also has interest in working with young players in the minor leagues.