Veteran right-hander Jeremy Guthrie, who elected free agency after being outrighted by the Nationals earlier this season, is not actively seeking an opportunity to sign with another team, according to MASNsports.com’s Mark Zuckerman. The 38-year-old didn’t go so far as to use the word “retire” during an excellent, lengthy interview with Zuckerman, but he also spoke like a man whose playing days could be behind him.
Guthrie’s lone start with the Nationals was memorable, although certainly not in the way that any pitcher would want to be remembered. Pitching on his 38th birthday, Guthrie was rocked for 10 runs in just two-thirds of an inning — a disastrous outcome for a pitcher that had turned in an outstanding Spring Training and forced himself into consideration for a 40-man roster spot.
“That start has not been something easy for me to let go,” Guthrie tells Zuckerman. “I wanted to end on a good note. I wanted to go out on my terms.”
Prior to that outing, Guthrie had tossed 18 2/3 innings for the Nats in the spring, posting a 2.41 ERA with a strong 15-to-5 K/BB ratio. The performance was impressive enough, Zuckerman writes, that GM Mike Rizzo promised Guthrie he’d start the team’s fifth game of the season (despite not technically being placed onto the roster out of camp, thus allowing the Nats to briefly carry an extra reliever). Guthrie was well aware that he’d be designated and sent back to Triple-A no matter how he fared, Zuckerman continues, though he’d have been considered for future spot starts and opportunities with the club had he performed well.
“I had a conversation with Mike Rizzo during the game, in the clubhouse, where he was positive and kind,” Guthrie tells Zuckerman. “But he didn’t sugarcoat the devastating blow that game meant to my future.”
Similarly, Guthrie doesn’t sugarcoat his own take of his brutal start to the season, telling Zuckerman, ” I was realistic with myself enough to know that was the type of outing that could completely change what had transpired the prior six weeks.”
Zuckerman’s column is rife with honest, candid quotes from Guthrie that serve as a poignant reminder of the human component of the game that is often easy to forget. The decision not to return to Triple-A Syracuse does not seem like one which Guthrie took lightly, as he details the amount of thought that both he and his wife put into the decision.
I’d highly recommend that MLBTR readers give it a full read — especially those who were fans of Guthrie during his more successful years earlier. Nats fans, too, will want to give it a look, as Guthrie offers nothing but praise for the entire organization, from the front office to the training staff to the current roster of players in D.C. “I would tell every player, if they have the chance, to come play for them,” says Guthrie.
It’s possible that Guthrie again feels the urge to seek out one last shot at a Major League roster, but if this is indeed the end of his career, he has little to hang his head about. Guthrie spent parts of 13 seasons in the Major Leagues, pitching to a 4.42 ERA over the life of 1765 1/3 innings between the Indians, Orioles, Rockies, Royals and Nationals. He made three starts for the Royals in the 2014 postseason, including two in the World Series, and he received a World Series ring for his time with the 2015 Royals.
Guthrie may never have been a front-line starter, but he was a durable workhorse for the Orioles and Royals for the better part of seven seasons. From 2008-14, he averaged 32 starts and 201 innings per year. Guthrie earned nearly $47MM in his career, between his $3MM signing bonus as the No. 22 overall pick in 2002 and the player contracts he’d go on to take home. Baseball-Reference pegs his career at 17.9 wins above replacement, while RA9-WAR had him at 20.4.