Reliever Andrew Bailey announced today (via Instagram) that he is hanging up his spikes in favor of a non-playing position with the Angels. Bailey will become the organization’s instant replay coordinator and coaching assistant, per Pedro Moura of The Athletic (Twitter link).
The 33-year-old Bailey ends his career with a 3.12 lifetime ERA over eight MLB campaigns. Of course, that hardly tells the tale of his winding journey through professional baseball.
A sixth-round pick from Wagner College, Bailey spent three years in the minors as a starter before debuting in the Athletics’ pen in 2009. He turned in an eye-opening campaign, racking up 83 1/3 innings of 1.84 ERA ball with 9.8 K/9, 2.6 BB/9, and just 5.3 hits per nine.
Bailey took hold of the A’s closing job that year and ended up with 75 saves over three years in Oakland. His final season there was his worst, but he managed to rebound from a forearm strain to throw 41 2/3 innings with a 3.24 earned run average.
That platform set the stage for a swap that sent Bailey to the Red Sox in exchange for Josh Reddick and others. (That trade had quite the butterfly effect, as MLBTR’s Steve Adams observed the following winter.) At the time, it seemed that Bailey would step into the closer’s role that had just been vacated by Jonathan Papelbon.
Things went south quickly in Boston, as Bailey opened the season on the DL due to a thumb injury and was tagged for a dozen earned runs in 15 1/3 frames upon his return. Though he bounced back to spin 28 2/3 frames of 3.77 ERA ball with 12.2 K/9 and 3.8 BB/9 in 2013, Bailey’s season was cut short by a significant shoulder injury that required surgery. He was non-tendered in advance of the 2014 campaign.
After enduring an obstacle-ridden rehab process, Bailey finally returned to the majors in September of 2015 with the Yankees. He made it unscathed through a 33-appearance opportunity with the Phillies in 2016, but limped to a 6.40 ERA and was released.
Bailey ended up catching on with the Angels at the tail end of the 2016 and turned in what was to be something of a last hurrah. Despite showing greatly diminished velocity, he saved six more games in a dozen appearances, earning a $1MM guarantee to return to Los Angeles for the 2017 season. Unfortunately, ongoing shoulder maladies kept Bailey to throwing four scoreless frames in the majors for the season.
Though Bailey did not have the kind of overall career that his first few seasons promised, he certainly had plenty of good moments and battled through quite a lot of injury-related adversity. (Among the many people he thanked in his message were “the countless athletic trainers, PT’s, strength coaches, surgeons and therapists.”) MLBTR wishes him the best of luck in his new pursuit within the game of baseball.