Veteran outfielder Angel Pagan is perhaps the most talented player among unsigned free agents, but the 11-year Major League veteran tells Yamaira Muniz Perez of El Vocero that he’s planning to sit out the 2017 season and spend time with his family rather than further pursue a contract. Pagan has reportedly turned down a pair of Major League offers this winter in addition to several minor league contracts. Muniz Perez reports that the Blue Jays, Braves and Nationals were among the clubs to offer minor league deals.
Pagan says that he’s not formally retiring, as he could once again feel the urge to compete in 2018 and beyond. He also notes that the decision is not one which he made on his own but rather with his entire family. Pagan says that at present, he is “100 percent dedicated” to his family.
That the 35-year-old Pagan remained a free agent all winter after putting up a .277/.331/.418 batting line with 12 homers and 15 steals last season was something of a surprise, even if his outfield defense had deteriorated. The switch-hitter was still worth one to two wins above replacement in 2016, depending on one’s preferred defensive metric (+1 rWAR, +2.1 fWAR), and there were a number of clubs that appeared to be fits. At various points, the Jays, Braves, Nats, Pirates and Orioles were connected to Pagan. Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports went so far as to report that Pagan had even reached an agreement with the Orioles at one point this winter before a failed physical sank the deal.
Whether this closes the book on Pagan’s career remains to be seen. Pagan suggested to Muniz Perez that he was never interested in taking a minor league pact this winter (as previous reports had suggested), but after sitting out the 2017 campaign he’ll assuredly have to do just that if he wishes to play in 2018. However, if a year away from the game comes with a continued desire to compete, then perhaps the notion of proving himself in Spring Training won’t be so off-putting.
Pagan’s big league debut came with the 2006 Cubs at the age of 24, but he didn’t cement himself as a big league regular until three years later with the Mets. Across the 11 years in which he played in the Majors, Pagan hit a combined .280/.330/.408 with 64 homers and 176 stolen bases between Chicago, New York and San Francisco. He won two World Series rings with the Giants and has earned more than $51MM to this point in his career.