Retirement Rumors

West Notes: Dunn, A’s, D-Backs, Zobrist, Chavez, Alonso

Adam Dunn‘s agent, Brian Peters, tells Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (Twitter link) that Dunn is indeed retiring, as was widely expected. Dunn himself said that he would retire following the season back in August, though he created a bit of doubt when he backed off slightly and said, “That’s it, probably,” following the Athletics’ loss to the Royals in the AL Wild Card game. Dunn’s career was unique, to say the least, as he epitomized the “three true outcomes” player, homering 462 times while striking out in 28.6 percent of his plate appearances and walking in  15.8 percent of them. Just under half (49.9 percent) of Dunn’s career plate appearances ended in a long ball, a walk or a whiff, and he will enter the record books with a .237/.364/.490 batting line. Dunn hit 40-plus homers in six separate seasons, including five consecutive years — four of which finished with 40 on the dot (2005-08). The “Big Donkey” will be fondly remembered by many for his light-tower power — a skill that earned him more than $112MM throughout his career, per Baseball-Reference.com. MLBTR wishes Dunn and his family happiness and the best of luck in his post-playing days.

Here are a few notes on some of the game’s Western division clubs, including the final team for which Dunn played…

  • Athletics right-handers Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin are doubtful for Opening Day, tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. That’s not a huge shock, given that both underwent Tommy John surgery last spring, though Parker, whose surgery was on March 25, would have seemed to at least have a chance at being ready. Oakland still has plenty of pitching depth, however, with Sonny Gray, Scott Kazmir, Jesse Hahn, Jesse Chavez, Drew Pomeranz, Chris Bassitt, Sean Nolin and Kendall Graveman all in the fold. Once Griffin and Parker are healthy, Oakland will have a plethora of MLB-ready rotation options, and only Kazmir is set to depart following the 2015 campaign.
  • Morosi also tweets that the Diamondbacks have received calls from the Orioles regarding their outfield depth. Baltimore is known to be looking for a left-handed hitting outfielder, and both David Peralta and Ender Inciarte would fit that description, Morosi notes. Peralta’s name has surfaced in trade talks already this offseason, as the Reds were said to be interested in him prior to acquiring Marlon Byrd. Moving Peralta would allow Arizona to shift Yasmany Tomas to the outfield rather than trying him at third base, as is the current plan, although first-year GM Dave Stewart specifically mentioned Peralta when discussing the club’s strengths shortly after his hiring.
  • Also from Morosi, the D-Backs have called the Blue Jays about Dioner Navarro, but talks haven’t advanced much to this point. Morosi noted last night that Arizona is working hard to acquire a catcher, as Tuffy Gosewich is the lone player on their 40-man roster with big league experience. Navarro is known to be available after the Jays inked Russell Martin to a huge five-year deal earlier this offseason.
  • The Giants tried to work out a deal to acquire Ben Zobrist from the Rays before he was dealt to Oakland, but San Francisco deemed Tampa’s asking price to be too high, tweets Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.
  • The Mariners are one option for veteran outfielder Endy Chavez, tweets Heyman. Soon to be 37, Chavez remains on the free agent market on the heels of a season in which he batted .276/.317/.371 (99 OPS+, 97 wRC+). While Chavez has never brought much to the table in terms of offense, he’s graded out well from a defensive standpoint throughout his career (though defensive metrics have soured on him over the past two seasons).
  • Yonder Alonso tells Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune that he is 100 percent healthy after undergoing surgery to repair a torn tendon in his right wrist. Alonso says that he hasn’t been pain-free in his hands since he broke a metacarpal bone in his right hand when he was hit by a pitch on May 31, 2013. Padres GM A.J. Preller has indicated that first base is likely to be handled by some combination of Alonso, Tommy Medica and Will Middlebrooks, and Lin notes that perhaps a lower-pressure environment with more offensive threats throughout the lineup will help Alonso. Still, he notes, Alonso’s tenure with the Padres has been a disappointment to many. “I really thought he’d unleash some power,” a scout from another club tells Lin. “It’s been disappointing.”

John McDonald Retires

Veteran middle infielder John McDonald has officially retired, according to the Twitter accounts of the Angels, Blue Jays, D-Backs and Indians, each of whom McDonald played for over the life of a 16-year Major League career.

McDonald, 40, said in September that he recognized the 2014 season could be his last, telling reporters that he got more out of his career than he ever thought possible. “I didn’t think I’d get a day in the big leagues, let alone parts of 16 years,” McDonald told MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez at the time.

Though he never brought much to the plate from an offensive standpoint, McDonald rode his excellent glovework to a lengthy career at the Major League level. Ultimate Zone Rating graded McDonald at 15.9 and 6.3 runs above average per 150 games at second base and shortstop, respectively, over the course of his career. Defensive Runs Saved credited him with 15 runs saved in 1376 innings at second base and a hefty 51 runs saved in 4082 innings at shortstop.

McDonald’s career will come to a close with a .233/.273/.323 batting line, 28 homers and 34 steals in 2651 Major League plate appearances split between the Indians, Blue Jays, D-Backs, Pirates, Phillies, Red Sox, Angels and Tigers. On an anecdotal note, he also holds the rare distinction of being traded for himself. In July of 2005, Toronto sent him to the Detroit in exchange for a player to be named later, only to complete the deal by re-acquiring him from the Tigers in exchange for cash considerations four months later.

All told, McDonald earned more than $13MM over the course of his time in the Majors. MLBTR extends its best wishes to McDonald and his family as he embarks on his post-playing days.


Quick Hits: McClellan, Aoki, Young, Robertson

Former Cardinals and Rangers reliever Kyle McClellan has officially announced his retirement.  In a message on his Facebook page, McClellan explained that he was told that his shoulder simply hadn’t recovered well enough following surgery, so he decided to hang up his glove after six Major League seasons.  McClellan posted a 3.79 ERA over 387 1/3 career innings from 2008-13, spending five seasons with St. Louis (winning a World Series ring in 2011) and one in Texas.  We at MLBTR wish McClellan all the best in his retirement and congratulations on a nice career.

Here’s some news from around the baseball world…

  • The Orioles have “limited” interest in Nori Aoki, a source tells MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko.  With the O’s linked to such bigger-name free agent and trade targets as Melky Cabrera, Justin Upton and Matt Kemp, it’s safe to presume that Aoki could be more of a backup plan for the Orioles if they can’t land any of those other outfielders.
  • The Mariners‘ acquisition of J.A. Happ from the Blue Jays probably ends any chance of Chris Young returning to Seattle’s rotation, MLB.com’s Greg Johns writes as part of a reader mailbag.
  • An increasing number of agents are privately saying that they would’ve advised David Robertson to accept the Yankees’ qualifying offer, ESPN’s Buster Olney tweets.  I can’t say I agree with the agents’ opinions, since it’s not like the draft pick compensation tied to Robertson via the QO has hurt his market; the closer has reportedly already received a three-year, $39MM offer and several executives think he’ll find a deal in the four-year, $50MM range.
  • Florida high schooler Brendan Rodgers holds the #1 spot on MLB.com’s rankings of the top 50 2015 draft prospects, MLB.com’s Jim Callis writes.  Rodgers, a shortstop, heads a class that still contains a lot of question marks, according to one AL scouting executive.  “It’s just wide open right now, especially at the top.  There are some nice players, but there’s a lot of gray area. There are just no elite guys who completely stand out. There’s not as much upside at the top as the past few drafts,” the executive said.
  • Former big leaguer Rico Brogna is now working as the Angels‘ quality control coach, somewhat of a troubleshooting position he tells Fangraphs’ David Laurila combines both traditional scouting analysis with advanced metrics to give his team a complete overview of a player’s strengths and weaknesses.
  • Will Middlebrooks doesn’t have an obvious role on the 2015 Red Sox roster, but the third baseman tells Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald that he’s working to get healthy and wants to stay with the Sox.  “I understand the moves they had to make,” Middlebrooks said.  “For the organization we are, we have to win next year. Everyone knows that. They had to make some moves. I was hurt, been hurt a lot. You can’t rely on that.”


Carlos Pena Joins MLB Network

The MLB Network announced today that veteran first baseman Carlos Pena will join its team as a studio analyst. While the release doesn’t make a specific mention that Pena has officially retired, it does begin with the phrase, “…after a 14-year career…” which of course suggests that the slugger’s playing career is coming to a close.

Pena, 36, has a lifetime .232./.346/.462 batting line with 286 homers and 818 RBIs in 5893 Major League plate appearances. Pena’s best seasons came with the Rays from 2007-09, during which time he batted .252/.382/.553 with 116 homers. His single-season homer totals in that time were 46, 31 and 39, and he nabbed a pair of ninth-place MVP finishes to go along with a Gold Glove award, a Silver Slugger award and the lone All-Star nod of his career.

Pena is widely respected and has a reputation for being a well-liked teammate, and some reporters who covered him in his playing days have already expressed that they feel his articulate nature will make him a good TV personality. If his playing days are done, he’ll hang it up having earned just over $48MM in a career that Baseball-Reference rated at 25 wins above replacement. MLBTR wishes Pena the best of luck in the next phase of his career.


Josh Willingham Announces Retirement

Josh Willingham will officially retire after an 11-year Major League career, the outfielder told ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick. Willingham’s decision comes despite receiving what he termed a “substantial” offer from a contending club this offseason, Crasnick writes. Willingham explained his decision process:

“I felt like it wouldn’t be fair to myself, and more importantly to the team that was paying me a lot of money to perform at a high level, if there was a chance my dedication would waver — particularly as the season got longer. I’m honored to have played for as many years as I have, and I feel even luckier to walk away on my own terms instead of having the decision made for me.”

The 35-year-old Willingham (36 in February) was a late bloomer who didn’t become an MLB regular until his age-27 season with the Marlins. However, once he established himself as a presence in their lineup, he quickly became known for his excellent plate discipline and plus right-handed power. He found himself traded to the Nationals and then to the A’s before reaching free agency for the first time, where he ultimately signed a three-year, $21MM contract with the Twins.

Willingham’s best season came in his first year with the Twins, as he batted .260/.366/.524 with a career-high 35 home runs — earning him a Silver Slugger and making him just the third player in Twins franchise history to hit 35 or more homers in a season (along with Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew and former AL Rookie of the Year Bob Allison). In total, Willingham’s career comes to a close with a .253/.358/.465 batting line, 195 homers and 632 RBIs in 1147 games between the Marlins, Nationals, A’s, Twins and Royals. The “Hammer” earned more than $35MM in his playing career, according to Baseball-Reference.com. MLBTR wishes Willingham and his family luck and happiness in his post-playing days and congratulates him on a very nice career.


J.J. Putz Joins Diamondbacks’ Front Office

The Diamondbacks announced that J.J. Putz, who spent the 2011-14 seasons as a member of the team’s bullpen, has been hired as a special assistant to president and CEO Derrick Hall. According to the press release, Putz will assist the team in both a baseball and business capacity. Some of the responsibilities outlined for him include attending community events, meeting with season-ticket holders, working with pitchers in Spring Training and visiting the club’s minor league affiliates throughout the course of the 2015 regular season.

“I am very excited to give back to the game that I love and have been fortunate to be a part of for 14 years,” said Putz in the press release. “To be a part of such a great organization is a blessing. My family and I have been so grateful to be a part of the Arizona community. It is a dream come true to work alongside a great man like Derrick. There are not enough great things to say about this organization.  I am forever thankful.” 

Hall expressed similar excitement about the opportunity to work alongside Putz: “J.J.’s performance on the field and popularity off the field make him a tremendous addition to the front office. His personality is a perfect fit for our culture and we are looking forward to him helping the D-backs in a number of different ways during this next phase of his career.”

While the press release doesn’t specifically state it, this most certainly appears to be the end of the 37-year-old Putz’s playing career. If that’s the case, Putz will cross the finish line with very strong marks. In 566 2/3 career innings, he posted a 3.08 ERA with 9.5 K/9, 2.9 BB/9, a 1.15 WHIP, a 37-33 record and 189 saves. Putz’s best season came with the 2007 Mariners, when he posted an exceptional 1.38 ERA, 10.3 K/9, 1.6 BB/9 and recorded 40 saves while finishing a league-high 65 games. He earned $38.875MM over his playing career, per Baseball-Reference.com, and his 189 saves rank 51st all-time. If this is indeed the end of the line for his days on a big league mound, we at MLBTR wish Putz the best of luck in his new career path and congratulate him on a very nice playing career.


Alfonso Soriano Announces Retirement

Longtime big leaguer Alfonso Soriano has annunced his retirement from the game, reports Hector Gomez of Dominican outlet Listin Diario (via Twitter). The 38-year-old played in parts of 16 MLB seasons, including thirteen as a full-time regular.

Soriano was once one of the most consistent power threats in the game. Between 2002 and 2013, Soriano averaged 624 trips to the plate per season, slashing .273/.324/.511. He hit 385 home runs (32 per year) and stole 243 bags (20 a season) over that stretch.

Soriano appeared in seven straight All Star games (2002-08). While generally subpar defensive marks hurt his overall value, Soriano was ultimately worth just under 40 fWAR in his career, though he checked in at less than 30 rWAR.

The Dominican native started and ended his career in pinstripes, joining the Yankees after an early-career stint in Japan. He was later dealt to the Rangers and then on to the Nationals, where he moved from second to the outfield, and ultimately signed an eight-year, $136MM deal with the Cubs.

That massive contract had its ups and downs, but Soriano ultimately swung an above average bat in every year except for a rough 2009. He spent the tail end of the deal back in New York after a deadline deal, delivering an excellent stretch of play late in 2013. But he struggled to get it going last year, and was ultimately cut loose by the Yanks in mid-season.


Kevin Youkilis To Retire

Corner infielder Kevin Youkilis will hang up his spikes after a 14-year professional career, according to a tweet from his representatives at Pro Star Management. The 35-year-old will be remembered most fondly for his time in Boston.

MLB: Atlanta Braves at Boston Red Sox

With the Red Sox, Youkilis emerged as one of the game’s most consistent on-base threats. His ability to work counts and draw walks was so legendary that it drew him the appellation “the Greek God of Walks,” a name referenced in the famous Moneyball book and film.

Of course, he could do much more than that. Over his six full-time seasons with the Red Sox, Youkilis slashed an outstanding .292/.392/.500 with 121 home runs. With solid defensive marks at third, he was worth 29.5 rWAR and 25.9 fWAR over that stretch, making him one of the very best position players in the game.

That outstanding performance made Youkilis a key figure in the Boston baseball revival. He did not see World Series action in 2004, his rookie year — though he was on the roster — but was a major contributor during the regular and post seasons in 2007. Over 125 career postseason plate appearances, Youkilis slashed a healthy .306/.376/.568 with six long balls.

Youkilis was ultimately dealt from Boston to the White Sox in the summer of 2012 after struggling in the early going. (That led to one of the more memorable mid-game trade acknowledgments; see photo.) He rebounded in Chicago, putting up a strong second half (.236/.346/.425 with 15 home runs in 344 plate appearances) and earning a $12MM free agent contract with the Yankees.

Issues with his back and plantar fasciitis ultimate marred the tail end of Youkilis’s career. He was ineffective when on the field in New York, and did not even make 100 trips to the plate this year after joining Rakuten of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball.

Nevertheless, Youkilis’s excellence at his peak cannot be ignored. He finished third in the AL MVP vote in 2008, and might have won were it not for teammate Dustin Pedroia. He was named to three All-Star teams over his ten MLB seasons.


Brian Roberts To Retire

Longtime Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts, who spent last season with the Yankees, will retire after a productive 14-year career. Roberts himself broke the news in an appearance on the Steve Gorman sports show on FOX Sports Radio (audio link; h/t to the BaltimoreSportsReport.com). Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com reports on Twitter that Roberts confirmed his intentions to hang up the spikes.

Roberts, who just turned 37, will always be known for his time in Baltimore. After two years as a solid regular, Roberts broke out with a stellar 2005 season in which he posted 7.2 rWAR and 6.6 fWAR on the back of excellent all-around play. Though he never again reached quite those levels, Roberts was an above-average to excellent performer over each of the next four years.

That track record of consistent production led Baltimore to award Roberts with a four-year, $40MM extension that covered the 2010-13 campaigns. Unfortunately, things turned south the moment the contract began to pay out, as a cascade of injuries conspired to wipe out large swaths of each of his next four campaigns. And Roberts never really regained his form when he was on the field, slashing a meager .246/.310/.359 over just 809 plate appearances during that four-year term.

The ending was not, perhaps, quite what Roberts envisioned when he made the difficult decision to join the Yankees on a one-year deal after spending his entire career in one (rival) organization. He logged 348 plate appearances in New York — somewhat remarkably, the highest annual tally he had managed since 2009 — but slashed just .237/.300/.360 with five home runs and seven stolen bases. He was ultimately released to make room for the acquisition of Stephen Drew.

While it is easy to be distracted by his inability to stay on the field after his age-31 season, Roberts was one of the better players in the game at his peak levels of performance. He logged nearly two-thirds of his career 30.3 rWAR and 28.4 fWAR during that 2005-09 run.


Ryan Dempster To Retire

Right-hander Ryan Dempster, who sat out the 2014 season due to physical issues and a desire to spend more time with his family, will not pursue a contract this offseason and will officially retire, reports Chris Cotillo of SB Nation’s MLB Daily Dish (on Twitter).

The 37-year-old Dempster was placed on the restricted list by the Red Sox following that decision, meaning that he forewent a sizable $13.25MM salary. At the time, Dempster told FOX’s Ken Rosenthal, “I don’t feel like I am capable of performing to the ability and standard that I am accustomed to. I feel it’s in the best interest of both the club but most importantly myself to step away from playing baseball at this time.” Over the summer, Dempster told the Chicago Tribune that he wasn’t ruling out a return to the playing field, but he didn’t miss playing at that point.

Dempster’s career will come to a close with a 4.35 ERA, 7.8 K/9 and 4.0 BB/9 in 2387 Major League innings. The former third-round pick and British Columbia native experienced success both as a starter and as a reliever in his career. He made 351 big league starts and totaled 132 Major League victories, but he also spent three seasons as the Cubs’ closer and totaled 87 saves in his career.

The final season of Dempster’s career certainly wasn’t his finest, but it may be his fondest memory. Dempster posted a 4.57 ERA in 171 1/3 innings for the Red Sox that season and was rewarded with a 2013 World Series ring when all was said and done.

A two-time All-Star, Dempster also finished sixth in the 2008 National League Cy Young voting in a surprisingly dominant campaign as he transitioned from the bullpen back to the rotation. He totaled 206 2/3 innings that season, posting a 2.96 ERA and averaging 8.1 strikeouts per nine innings along the way.

Baseball-Reference.com values Dempster’s career at 22.6 wins above replacement, while Fangraphs pegs him at 27.5 WAR. In parts of 16 Major League seasons with the Marlins, Reds, Cubs, Rangers and Red Sox, Dempster earned more than $89MM, according to B-Ref. We at MLBTR wish Dempster the best of luck in his post-playing days.