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Former big-league outfielder and top prospect Ruben Rivera appears to have retired as a player, MiDiario.com reports (link in Spanish). Rivera will now become a hitting coach for his former team, the Olmecas de Tabasco.
Among many US readers, this news will surely be greeted with confusion, since Rivera last appeared in the big leagues in 2003, but he has been a star in Mexico for a decade since then, hitting at least 20 home runs in eight separate years in the Mexican League and also posting several strong seasons in the Mexican Pacific Winter League.
The 41-year-old Rivera has a somewhat different history in the United States, of course. He signed with the Yankees in 1990, and Baseball America ranked him in the top ten prospects in baseball in 1995, 1996 and 1997. After a trade to the Padres, though, he never had sustained success in the big leagues, generally posting low batting averages and on-base percentages in parts of four seasons in San Diego.
After being released, he headed to the Reds before returning to the Yankees prior to the 2002 season. The Yankees then released him after an infamous incident in which he took equipment from Derek Jeter to sell to a sports memorabilia dealer. He then played briefly for the Rangers and Giants (during which he was part of one of the greatest baserunning gaffes of all time) before heading to the minors and ultimately to Mexico. For his big-league career, Rivera hit .216/.307/.393 in 1818 plate appearances spanning nine seasons.
The Giants have re-signed infielder Marco Scutaro to a Major League contract and immediately placed him on the 60-day DL, according to Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter links). The move is a symbolic gesture that will allow Scutaro to retire as a member of the Giants organization. The 39-year-old will continue to rehab, Schulman says, but only to improve the quality of life he can have in his post-playing days.
It’s a classy move from the organization that released Scutaro this past January in order to free up a spot on the team’s 40-man roster. Scutaro’s final seasons with the Giants were slowed by a number of back injuries that limited him to 127 games in 2013 and just five games in 2014. As the Chronicle’s John Shea tweets, the Giants made this move as a gesture because they didn’t want a playoff hero’s career to end with a release.
“Playoff hero” is certainly an apt description for Scutaro, but it may actually undersell his importance to the 2012 Giants. Acquired from the division-rival Rockies in exchange for Charlie Culberson, Scutaro took San Francisco by storm in the second half of the 2012 season. He batted a Herculean .362/.385/.473 in 61 contests for the Giants down the stretch before hitting .500 (14-for-28) and taking home NLCS MVP honors. The Giants, of course, would go on to win the World Series in decisive fashion, sweeping the Tigers to take home their second championship in three years.
Scutaro’s brilliant performance led the team to re-sign him to a three-year, $20MM contract that offseason. Though the aforementioned injuries did limit his playing time in 2013, Scutaro still batted a very solid .297/.357/.369 in the 127 games he was healthy, combining that above-average production with sound defense and plus baserunning to produce more than two wins above replacement.
Originally signed by the Indians in 1994, Scutaro is a personification of the “late bloomer” in sports. He debuted with the Mets in 2002 at the age of 26 but didn’t total more than 91 plate appearances in either of his two years with New York. The A’s gave Scutaro his first semi-regular action in 2004, but he never even reached 500 plate appearances in a single season until 2008 with the Blue Jays — his age-32 season. Until that point, Scutaro had looked the part of a solid utility player rather than a starter.
Sound work with the Blue Jays in 2008-09 led the Red Sox to sign him to a two-year, $12.5MM contract with a club option for a third season. Scutaro was again very good in two seasons with Boston (.284/.343/.401), who traded him to the Rockies prior to 2012 in exchange for right-hander Clayton Mortensen.
All told, Scutaro will finish his career with a .277/.341/.388 batting line, 77 homers, 55 steals, 22.2 rWAR and 18.6 fWAR. He earned nearly $49MM, according to Baseball-Reference.com — an incredible sum for someone who had essentially been a light-hitting utility infielder through his age-31 season in the mid-2000s. We at MLBTR wish Marco the best of luck as well as health and happiness in his post-playing career.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Bedard, 36, was only just returning to action after suffering a strained muscle in his back. He had thrown 14 1/3 innings at the High-A level on the season, striking out seven and walking one while allowing eight earned runs.
The southpaw is well removed from his heyday, but was once one of the more effective starters in the game. Pitching for the Orioles, he came in fifth in the Cy Young voting back in 2007, when he threw 182 innings of 3.16 ERA ball with a league-leading 10.9 K/9 against 2.8 BB/9.
That big campaign led the Mariners’ to deal for him, forking over a prospect package fronted by Adam Jones and Chris Tillman to add him. Though Bedard continued to put up good results, shoulder issues bit hard and limited him to 255 1/3 frames over his three years in Seattle (plus another 38 after he was dealt to the Red Sox in the middle of 2011).
Bedard has bounced around since, putting up solid strikeout numbers but failing to hold down the free passes. All told, Bedard has racked up just over 1,300 big league innings of 3.99 ERA pitching while averaging 8.6 K/9, 3.7 BB/9, and a 41.9% groundball rate.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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