Retirement Rumors

Juan Pierre Officially Retires

Veteran outfielder Juan Pierre has officially retired, Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald tweets. Pierre did not play in 2014, so it comes as little surprise that he’s retiring.

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.


Jason Giambi Retires

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.

Jason Giambi

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.


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.