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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
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.
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, 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.
The speedy Pierre racked up 614 stolen bases in parts of 14 seasons in the Majors and rarely struck out, finding ways to annoy opposing pitchers despite his lack of home-run power. He led his league in stolen bases three times and is currently 18th in career steals. (He’s also sixth in caught stealings for his career, with 203.)
For much of his career, Pierre was also a serious on-base threat, with six seasons with on-base percentages above .350. Pierre was a key member of the World Champion 2003 Marlins, swiping 65 bases that season before hitting .333/.481/.429 in the World Series against the Yankees.
Pierre finishes his career with a .295/.343/.361 line with the Rockies, Marlins, Cubs, Dodgers, White Sox, and Phillies, earning at least $57MM in the process, via Baseball Reference. Much of that came from a $44MM deal with the Dodgers signed prior to the 2007 season.
Former American League MVP Jason Giambi has decided to formally retire from playing baseball, he told Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News. Giambi offered a lengthy statement thanking his family, agents, equipment providers, coaches, teammates and media for their role in his career. While the statement is too long for the purposes of this post, fans of Giambi can read it in its entirety in the linked article above.
The Giambino was sure to also thank fans that supported him throughout the ups and downs of his career (he reportedly admitted to a grand jury in 2003 that he did use performance enhancing drugs): “I want to thank the fans for being a part of this incredible journey. I especially want to thank the fans that gave me a second chance to let me show you the human being you see today.”
Giambi’s legacy will be somewhat tainted by that admission, but the numbers he put up over parts of 20 Major League seasons are impressive no matter how you slice them. In 8,908 career plate appearances, Giambi batted .277/.399/.516 with 440 home runs and 1,441 RBIs. Prior to today’s announcement, Giambi was also the active Major League leader in career walks, with 1,366, and he was worth about 50 wins above replacement per both Fangraphs and Baseball-Reference. He appeared on five All-Star teams, won two Silver Sluggers and had a pair of Top 5 MVP finishes — including a second-place finish in 2001 — in addition to his 2000 MVP honors.
Giambi was able to play through his age-43 season due in large part to not only accepting, but rather embracing a reduced role with the Rockies and Indians. The slugger was used primarily as a pinch-hitter in Denver and in Cleveland, but he relished the opportunity to mentor younger players and share his wisdom with the game’s next generation. That attitude and the manner in which he was accepted by his younger teammates has led many to believe that Giambi may one day be a big league manager. In fact, he was at one point in consideration to manage the Rockies prior to signing with Cleveland in the 2012-13 offseason, and Terry Francona has referred to Giambi as a “manager-in-waiting.”
We at MLBTR wish Giambi and his family happiness and the best of luck in his post-playing days.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.