Right-hander Scott Oberg hasn’t pitched since the 2019 season, and while the veteran Rockies reliever hasn’t officially confirmed his retirement, his recent interview with Jack Etkin of Rockies Magazine indicated that Oberg is taking steps towards a post-playing career.
“I’m not really in a rush to pick up a ball again in the near term and give it another go, just in the sense that (I) keep running into the risk of having to go through all of this again,” Oberg said, referring to the recurring blood-clotting issues that have kept him off the field. “Now it’s not really my decision, I don’t feel at this point, really. It’s kind of a family decision just because there’s so much more on the line.”
Between August 2016 and March 2021, Oberg underwent four different procedures to address the blood clots that kept developing in his right forearm. Even after all of these operations, Oberg said that “nobody really has a straight answer on” why the clots keep reappearing, other than “we have a general idea that this is caused by throwing. And every time you have one, you seem to be at a higher risk to have another one.”
It has made for a frustrating and worrisome situation for Oberg and his family, and with seemingly no safe way to get back onto the mound, Oberg has started looking for new paths at age 32. He is currently pursuing a master’s degree in sports industry management at Georgetown, and his role as the Rockies’ MLBPA player rep made him very busy given all of baseball’s labor issues over the last two years.
Oberg could also transition into a role with the Rockies, after already unofficially helping the club with some scouting and player analysis work over the last year. Whether this could translate into a player-development job may simply be up to Oberg, as Colorado GM Bill Schmidt seems very open to the idea: “We’ll figure out a role for him. He’s a very bright guy. And I think the world of Scottie and want him involved.”
A 15th-round pick for the Rockies in the 2012 draft, Oberg has spent his entire pro career in the organization, and posted a 3.85 ERA over 257 1/3 relief innings from 2015-19. After beginning as something of a groundball specialist, Oberg’s strikeout rate gradually rose in each of his five Major League seasons, and his best numbers came over his most recent two campaigns. Oberg posted a 2.35 ERA over 114 2/3 innings in 2018-19, somewhat quietly establishing himself as one of baseball’s better relief arms.
“I think that’s kind of the biggest frustration that I might have of all this is that I really felt like I was coming into my prime between what I could do physically and you know learning from all the mistakes that I’d made in the past and all the ups and downs and all the times that I’d failed,” Oberg said. “I definitely put a lot of good things together in 2019. So I was certainly excited about the prospects of the future. Who knows how long of a run I would have been able to make? But in the same respect, to go out on top is I guess maybe the best way to go about it and knowing that something is kind of out of my control. I don’t know if that makes it any better or not.”
Oberg was at least able to land one big payday in the form of a three-year, $13MM extension signed in December 2019. That deal covered the 2020-22 seasons, so Oberg has never thrown a professional pitch during the life of that contract, which locked up Oberg’s final two arbitration-eligible seasons and what would have been his first year of free agency. Colorado holds an $8MM club option on Oberg for 2023 that will surely be declined.
If this is indeed the end for Oberg as a player, we at MLB Trade Rumors congratulate him on a fine career, and we look forward to seeing what’s next in his off-the-field endeavors.