Retirement Rumors

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.



Josh Beckett To Retire

Dodgers righty Josh Beckett said today that he will retire from the game, as MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports. The 34-year-old was slated for surgery on his torn left hip labrum, but will not attempt to work back from the injury.

Beckett was having an excellent season before he was stricken with another significant injury. He owned a 2.88 ERA through 115 2/3 frames, striking out 8.3 and walking 3.0 batters per nine. Though his numbers were propped up somewhat by a .257 BABIP and 85.2% strand rate, Beckett’s stuff was good enough that he managed to record the first and only no-hitter of his career.

It has been a memorable career for Beckett, who won the 2003 World Series MVP with the Marlins at just 23 years of age. By that time, he had already established himself as one of the best young starters in baseball. But by the winter of 2005, he was headed to the Red Sox (along with Mike Lowell) in exchange for a package including future stars Hanley Ramirez and Anibal Sanchez.

Beckett had an up-and-down tenure in Boston. Over 2006-11, he averaged 185 innings a year with a 4.04 ERA and 8.2 K/9 against 2.4 BB/9. But he mixed in three All-Star campaigns, including a 2007 effort (3.27 ERA over 204 2/3) in which he was the Cy Young runner-up.

Beckett ultimately signed two extensions with Boston: a three-year, $30MM deal that included a $12MM vesting option and a four-year, $68MM pact that ran through 2014. Of course, the latter contract did not end as might have been hoped at the time. After playing a central role in the public’s dissection of Boston’s 2011 meltdown, Beckett was off to a rough start in 2012 when his contract became part of the massive Red Sox-Dodgers mid-season trade.

Though he may have delivered more value back to Los Angeles than seemed likely at the time of that swap, Beckett continued to be inconsistent. He threw well down the stretch in 2012 before scuffling through an injury-plagued 2013.

Things ended on a high note, of course, and Beckett will leave the game having contributed 35.3 rWAR and 39.0 fWAR to his clubs. For that production, he earned over $116MM. MLBTR wishes Beckett the best of luck in whatever endeavors he chooses to pursue now that his playing days are over.


Fernando Tatis Retires

Fernando Tatis has announced his retirement from baseball, El Deportista reports (link in Spanish). Tatis hadn’t played in the Majors since 2010, but he has played in his native Dominican Republic since then and played in Mexico this year. Tatis last turned up in these pages in early 2013, when he worked out for the Orioles (who ultimately did not sign him).

Tatis’ best season came in 1999, when he hit .298/.404/.553 while hitting 34 home runs (including two grand slams in one inning) as the Cardinals’ starting third baseman. He also played for the Rangers, Expos, Orioles and Mets in a career spanning parts of 11 seasons. He finishes his career with a line of .265/.344/.442 and with career earnings of over $17MM, according to Baseball-Reference.com.


Octavio Dotel Retires

The man who has played for more Major League teams than anyone in history won’t be adding another to his resumé, as right-hander Octavio Dotel has decided to officially retire, reports Chris Cotillo of SB Nation’s MLB Daily Dish.

Last we heard on Dotel, the veteran reliever was looking to make a comeback in 2014, though that never wound up coming to be. Cotillo notes that Dotel tried to rehab from his most recent injury (elbow inflammation that cost him nearly all of the 2013 season) in the Dominican Republic in hopes of latching on with a new team, but the rehab was unsuccessful.

Dotel, 40, will finish his career having played for a record 13 teams in the Majors. In parts of 15 big league seasons between the Astros, Athletics, Tigers, White Sox, Royals, Mets, Rockies, Pirates, Braves, Cardinals, Dodgers, Yankees and Blue Jays, Dotel compiled a 3.78 ERA with 10.8 K/9, 3.9 BB/9 and a 32.5 percent ground-ball rate. In his best seasons, Dotel averaged 94+ mph on his fastball, but he lost some of that velocity late in his career and finishes with an average of 93 mph on his heater.

Dotel never earned an All-Star nod, but he did secure a World Series ring after pitching 24 2/3 innings of 3.28 ERA ball during the regular season for the 2011 Cardinals, plus another 10 1/3 postseason frames in which he yielded three earned runs (2.61 ERA). Dotel recorded saves for nine of the 13 teams for which he played, totaling 109 in a career that earned him more than $41MM, per Baseball-Reference.com. MLBTR wishes Dotel the best of luck in his post-playing career.


Lyle Overbay Likely To Retire

With his 14th big league season in the books, Brewers first baseman Lyle Overbay sounds ready to call it a career. The first baseman said on MLB Network Radio (Twitter link) that he is “99.9 percent” certain that he will retire this offseason.

If that indeed holds true, he’ll finish as a lifetime .266/.347/.429 hitter with 151 homers. Those numbers were compiled over stretches with the Blue Jays, Brewers, and Diamondbacks along with shorter stints with the Pirates, Yankees, and Braves. Overbay’s best season, perhaps, came in 2006 with Toronto, when he slashed a robust .312/.372/.508 over 640 plate appearances and hit a career-high 22 long balls.

In his second run with the Brewers this year, Overbay served as a platoon mate to Mark Reynolds. On his left-handed side of the ledger, Overbay put up a .233/.328/.333 line in 296 plate appearances. After starting his career as an 18th-round draft pick, the University of Nevada, Reno product has managed to rack up $36MM in career earnings.


Adam Dunn To “Probably” Retire After Season

OCTOBER 1: After last night’s difficult loss, Dunn said he still intends to retire but did not slam the door shut entirely, as MLB.com’s Jane Lee tweets“That’s it probably,” he said.

SEPTEMBER 1: Dunn kept the door slightly open for a 2015 return, telling Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter link) that he only said he will “probably” retire following the season.  He has no intention of continuing his career to chase the 500-homer mark unless he’s on a contending team.

AUGUST 31: Adam Dunn says he will retire after the season, Bruce Levine of 670theScore.com tweets. The news comes in the wake of the slugger being traded to Oakland, and comes as no great surprise — he’s in the last season of his $56MM contract, and he’s discussed the possibility of retiring before.

USATSI_7995765_154513410_lowresHe’s also 34, and his best days as a player seem to be behind him. He remains a prolific power hitter, with 20 home runs in 435 plate appearances this year, and he’s always drawn more than his share of walks. But his batting average has fallen to very low levels — he hasn’t batted above .220 since 2010. And his defense, while never good, has gotten so poor that he’s a liability anywhere other than DH, even considering his obvious offensive skills.

Nonetheless, Dunn will leave behind an impressive body of work, and his extreme homers/walks/strikeouts offensive game makes him an historically unique player. He has 460 career home runs (good for 36th all-time), including at least 38 in seven consecutive seasons from 2004 through 2010. He’s also drawn an impressive 1,311 walks in his career, fourth among active players (behind Bobby Abreu, Jason Giambi and Manny Ramirez). Of course, he’s been one of the game’s most frequent strikeout victims — five of his seasons are in the top 20 all time in strikeouts, and he ranks third all-time in whiffs, behind Reggie Jackson and Jim Thome.

Dunn made his mark on Major League pitching immediately, finishing fourth in NL Rookie of the Year voting in 2001 (despite only playing half the season in the bigs) and emerging as a poster boy for the sabermetric movement with his “Three True Outcomes” (homers, walks and strikeouts) offensive style. He then blossomed into one of the game’s most feared power hitters as an outfielder and then a first baseman with the Reds, Diamondbacks and Nationals.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Carlos Zambrano Announces Retirement

During a visit to Wrigley Field for today’s Pirates/Cubs game, veteran right-hander Carlos Zambrano told reporters (including MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat) that he has retired.  He had been pitching in his native Venezuela last winter in the hopes of catching on with another Major League club, but it appears as though Zambrano has instead called it a career.

The “Big Z” retires with a 132-91 record, 3.66 ERA, 7.5 K/9 and 38.2 rWAR over 1959 innings in the bigs, with 11 of his 12 seasons spent with the Cubs and his final year (2012) spent with the Marlins.  (Zambrano also made four starts in the Phillies’ minor league system in 2013.)  He threw a no-hitter against the Astros in 2008 and his career achievements include three top-five finishes in NL Cy Young Award voting, three All-Star appearances and three Silver Slugger Awards.  That last honor was particularly well-deserved since Zambrano was one of the better-hitting pitchers in recent memory, posting a .238/.248/.388 slash line and 24 homers over 744 PA.

While slightly leaving the door open for a possible comeback attempt, Zambrano’s recent attempts at throwing didn’t work out.  “I was telling one of the [Cubs] scouts that I was playing catch the other day after five months, and I felt like I was throwing a rock,” Zambrano said.  “I think I’m going to stay home, see what happens next year. God has the last word.”

Zambrano, 33, was no stranger to controversy over his career, known for several confrontations with umpires and twice getting into dugout altercations with teammates (Michael Barrett and Derrek Lee).  The Cubs put him on the restricted list in August 2011, effectively ending his career in Chicago.

According to Baseball Reference, Zambrano made just under $114MM over his career.  We at MLBTR wish Zambrano a happy time in retirement.


Eric Chavez Retires

Third baseman Eric Chavez has retired, effective immediately, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (Twitter link). The 36-year-old has seen time in 17 MLB seasons.

Chavez hit .246/.346/.449 in 81 plate appearances for the Diamondbacks this season, but hasn’t played since early June due to injury. He’s battled knee trouble this season and also has a long history of back issues.

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at Arizona Diamondbacks

Of course, his best seasons came earlier in his career with the Athletics, when Chavez was among the game’s more productive players. Over the 2000-2006 time frame, Chavez compiled a .273/.352/.495 slash with 199 home runs. With outstanding defense, he was worth 31 rWAR and 31.1 fWAR during that stretch.

From that point forward, Chavez was limited by injuries, and never saw more than 400 trips to the plate in a season. But he remained a productive reserve, ultimately moving to the Yankees and then Diamondbacks.

It was no coincidence that the “Moneyball” Athletics made five postseason appearances in the time that Chavez was at his peak. Though he never quite delivered full value on a six-year, $66MM extension signed before the 2004 campaign, Chavez nevertheless was, in the aggregate, a cheap source of top-level production for Oakland after being taken 10th overall in the 1996 draft.