Longtime big league catcher René Rivera took to Instagram to announce his retirement Friday morning. “In June 2001, I had the opportunity to make one of my dreams come true, to get signed as a professional baseball player,” Rivera wrote. “21 years later, I thank God for the career he has allowed me to have. Today I want to announce that I am retiring as a professional baseball player.”
The 39-year-old goes on to thank every organization for which he played. He also expressed gratitude to his family, coaches, representatives and fans before concluding he’s “ready for the next step of (his) career.”
Rivera, a native of Puerto Rico, was selected by the Mariners in the second round of the ’01 draft. He was in the majors a little more than three years later, debuting as a September call-up in 2004 not long after his 21st birthday. Rivera spent a few seasons as a depth catcher for Seattle, combining to appear in 53 MLB games over his first three years.
After the 2006 campaign, Rivera kicked off a nomadic path that’d define his entire career. He was out of the majors entirely between 2007-10, bouncing between various organizations’ upper minors affiliates and spending some time in independent ball. Rivera returned to the bigs with the Twins in 2011 for a 45-game stint and played the following year in Triple-A.
A brief showing with the Padres in 2013 set the stage for Rivera to improbably break through as San Diego’s primary catcher at age 30 the next year. He connected on 11 home runs over a career-high 329 plate appearances during the ’14 season, hitting .252/.319/.432. The following offseason, San Diego sent him to the Rays in the three-team blockbuster that moved Wil Myers to Southern California, Steven Souza to Tampa Bay and then-prospect Trea Turner to Washington.
Rivera played in a personal-high 110 games with Tampa Bay but couldn’t recapture his prior year’s success at the plate. He hit .178/.213/.275 over 319 trips to the dish with the Rays and was released before the following season. He quickly signed with the Mets and would see a decent amount of action in Queens over the latter portion of his career. Rivera played in 65 games for the Mets in 2016 before logging 74 contests between New York and the Cubs the next year. He split the 2018 campaign with the Angels and Braves, then returned to the Mets as a depth catcher from 2019-20. Rivera’s final major league action came in 2021, when he got into 25 games between the Indians and Nationals.
While Rivera was rarely much of an offensive contributor, his strong defensive reputation earned him repeated opportunities. He ultimately logged parts of 13 MLB campaigns over a professional career that spanned two decades, suiting up at the MLB level for ten different teams. Rivera played in 542 big league contests, hitting .221/.273/.354 with 43 home runs across 1629 plate appearances. He spent nearly 4000 innings behind the plate, posting consistently strong marks from pitch framing metrics and cutting down a fantastic 36.5% of attempted basestealers.
MLBTR congratulates Rivera on his lengthy run in the professional ranks and wishes him the best in his post-playing endeavors.
Always wished he got more MLB playing time.
Why? Some players are at their best as part-timers.
@Jon M: Joc Pederson, Dan Vogelbach, Wally Backman, and just about any platoon player ever.
The guy who played in 542 more MLB games than you 🙂
I knew someone would say it.
Had to homie hahaha
Lmao at your screen name, it’s funny
Thank you. I was named after the 80s version of Darryl Strawberry.
Never heard of him, but I wish him well in retirement.
You don’t follow baseball in-depth then…
Yeah, I wonder how someone can be visiting this site and have never heard of this guy. Must be a homer who only follows one team.
Nah, this is the kind of guy who goes into every Rene Rivera article just to say “Who? Don’t know him. Stop posting irrelevant stuff, MLBTR!”
When he was a rookie, I met him at Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital in Tacoma. He and George Sherrill were there to brighten up some kids lives. He could not have been nicer. I was a fan from then on and followed his career. Happy retirement, Rene.
I see a managing gig in his future.
I agree, although I probably think this about every long-term backup catcher that played good defense
Always liked René and sometimes wondered why he didn’t play more. Pitchers seemed to love him. Happy retirement and I bet he’s be a good coach if he chooses to be.
Agreed. I could see the Mets hiring him to work with their catchers, especially Alvarez on his defense.
Darn. I turn 39 early in the season. With the recent retirements of Jeff Mathis, Kurt Suzuki, Rene Rivera, and Yadier Molina, I don’t think I have a catcher for my “All Older Than Me Team.” I have other holes on my roster. I think 2022 was my final year I could do that, and that was with Molina playing 3b and Pujols and Miguel Cabrera in the outfield.
Wilmer the Thrillmer
Robinson Chirinos turns 39 in early June.
He is one month younger than me, and a free agent.
@truthlemonade: That ship will sail by the time you’re 42 or 43.
Coincidentally, three things interesting to me happened on May 30, 1982. I graduated from college, the only MLB player I count as a personal friend had the only multi-homer game of his 9-year career, and Cal Ripken Jr. played the first game of his epic streak. For the duration of the streak, I told myself I wasn’t that old. Then came 1995, it came to an end, and yada yada yada, a lot more time passed.
It seems like you’re friends with Billy Sample.
“psychotic goldfish” …now there’s a screen name. Love it.
Suprised he didnt get more chances when he played. Never really hit for power and was slow but I’ll take a .250 BA all singles for a catcher any day of the week as long as their defense is decent
He didn’t get more chances because he couldn’t hit. A 627 lifetime OPS. And his average wasn’t 250, it was 221.
LFGMets: He was a similar player offensively to Duffy Dyer. Both hit .221, he had 176 RBI to Dyer’s 173, and he hit 65 doubles, 2 triples, and 43 homers in 1492 ABs to Dyer’s 74 doubles, 11 triples, and 30 homers in 1993 ABs. And Dyer stole 10 bases to Rivera’s one, lol.
I really like him in 2014 with the Padres
among the best defensive catchers in the world at his peak with a little pop. nothing wrong with that!
Woah haven’t heard that name in a long time.
And with that, only two players remain active from MVP 2005.
MVP 2004 my favorite PS2 game
Thought this was the guy that stole Jeter’s glove. That was RUBEN Rivera. My apologies for the near false allegations.
Ruben was Mariano’s cousin. how embarrassed was the hofer about that whole incident? brutal
Both ex-Padres. Ruben was a 5-tool idiot.
You can take the kid out of the ghetto, you can’t take the ghetto out of the kid.
According to Fangraphs Rivera has 9.030 years MLB service time. Ten years gets a player a full pension. Too bad he couldn’t have gotten another year service time.
Him and lots of other players who , for example, had their careers cut short by the owners’ collusion to not sign free agents.
Really nice dude, good defender and did a great job with pitchers, he has a career as a catching instructor if he wants it.
Somebody’s Bullpen coach soon if he wants it.
Good luck Sir. Love your fan friendliness. 10 different teams wanted you. Amazing.
Congrats on a long and fine career; hope to see you coaching and managing in the future!
I never understood why pitchers who do one job are allowed to have someone hit for them but position players need to do two jobs. There should be a DH for position players too.
The players’ union saw your post; it has called an emergency meeting tonight. They think they can get the rosters expanded to 52. They’ll need pinchitters for the designated hitters for the fielders…
I do remember him, though my account of him is vague. Was he not a backup catcher while he was here? And without looking him up I don’t believe he was here very long, don’t even know who replace him, and did he not spend more time in AAA?
Yes he was a backup catcher at your house. You don’t remember him?
Dude’s a grinder..and if he happens to read this, and a Padres fan, would love to see him come here and do the chat.
You Can Put It In The Books .
He was solid for the Mets as a backup, really good arm and defensive catcher.