You could make a decent team out of MLB players who might retire this year
Ichiro, Beltran, Utley among our MLB offseason 'Retirement Team'
With the qualifying offers having come down on Monday, we're just a few days away from the beginning of free agency. This is the perfect time for teams to announce extensions with players just before free agency (like the Angels with Justin Upton) and for older, post-prime players to announce their intentions to not retire. Such as ...
So Curtis Granderson is not retiring. This isn't a huge surprise. He swings left-handed, hit 26 homers with a 103 OPS+ last year and still plays decent enough defense in right field. There are millions of dollars laying around somewhere for that kind of talent, even at age 37 (he turns 37 in March). Plus, he's still seeking that elusive first World Series ring.
The news did get us thinking, though, about who actually might retire this offseason. Even if they haven't announced their intentions yet, we have a litany of notable players possibly facing retirement, either forced (no one wanting to sign them) or voluntary. Let's make a list.
Disclaimer: We're only sticking to the bigger names here, so this isn't fully inclusive. In fact, let's put together a team! That's an easier way to digest and, frankly, it's more fun. We've got one surefire Hall of Famer here, another one who should be in and many others who will get at least one turn on the ballot (our second baseman has an interesting case, for example).
Our catcher is Chooch and it's very likely the end of the line for him. The long-time Phillies backstop put together a very admirable career. He was an All-Star in 2012 and helped the Phillies to five straight NL East titles, a run that included two NL pennants and one World Series title.
Napoli hasn't given any indication he plans to retire, but he might not have a choice. Sure, he hit 29 home runs, but longballs were as cheap as ever in 2017. The rest of Napoli's profile screams broken-down. He hit .193 with a .285 on-base percentage. He only had 11 doubles. He struck out 163 times in 425 at-bats. He might get a DH job, but most teams aren't looking for the old-school DH type and instead like flexibility to use several different players there.
Though he intends to keep playing, Utley knows he's almost done. Back in mid-September, Utley was realistic about how things could go down.
"I know the market nowadays isn't that friendly to older players," he said to the OC Register. "I guess we'll have to wait and see. But I feel personally there's still plenty of ways I can contribute."
As a part-timer last year, Utley hit .236/.324/.405 against a career line of .276/.359/.469. He'll be 39 next season. If I had to guess, he'll find a one-year deal as a backup somewhere, but retirement is possible enough to use him here.
The six-time All-Star was one of baseball's elite second baseman for a while. Being a late bloomer might cost him the Hall, though, as he wasn't a regular until age 26.
Thanks to an abdominal strain, Drew didn't play a game after July 25. He put off surgery until the offseason in hopes of returning, but that means he's now facing surgery in the offseason. Hitting free agency after hitting .253/.302/.358 while needing surgery and heading into a player's age-35 year isn't a great recipe for getting signed -- especially since Drew has hit .205/.275/.377 since 2013.
Wright has continued to say he has no intention of retiring and he's got $47 million reasons not to do so (that's how much money is left on his deal for the next three years). Sadly, though, his body just isn't cooperating. He's played only 75 games in the last three regular seasons combined and that's with a zero in 2017. He's had to deal with serious injuries to his neck, back and shoulder in addition to spinal stenosis. He had shoulder surgery in September and then back surgery in October.
Wright won't officially retire due to the contract, nor should he, but I fear we never see him play again. It's a shame. He's a great guy and was a great player, possibly on his way to Cooperstown before all the injuries. It sucks, but it happens.
Beltran has yet to make an announcement either way, but it seems like it's the perfect time to ride off into the sunset, right? For more on him,.
The Marlins have . He's 44 years old and coming off a season in which he hit just .255/.318/.332 (76 OPS+). He's surpassed 3,000 hits. If you include his hits in NPB, he has more than Pete Rose. If you don't, he can't possibly come close to Rose. Without the personal milestones to chase, it seems like this is the end of the road for the future Hall of Famer.
This was an unbelievably quick descent. Bautista hit 40 homers, walked more than he struck out and finished eighth in AL MVP voting in 2015. With one year left on his deal at the time, reports indicated Bautista was seeking upwards of $150 million in a possible extension. The Blue Jays balked and rightfully so, as it turns out. He hit .234 with a 118 OPS+ while battling injury in 2016 and then came crawling back on a one-year extension. He hit .203/.308/.366 (76 OPS+) with 23 homers in a full 2017 season. He'll be 37 next year and wants to keep playing, but he might not have a choice.
The 39-year-old Lackey's final start of the 2016 season was a gem in St. Louis and the Cubs clinched the NL Central that night. After the game, his teammate and long-time friend Jon Lester led a bit of a toast in appreciation of Lackey and made a reference to it being the final big-league start for "Lack." He did post a 4.59 ERA and NL-worst 36 homers allowed. He's also made over $140 million in his career and won rings with the Angels, Red Sox and Cubs. Seems like the time to go.
Reports say Colon wants to pitch one more season, but he'll be 45 and he's coming off a 6.48 ERA, 1.59 WHIP season. There are lots of better inning-eating options out there. Colon has 240 career wins with 2,454 strikeouts and an AL Cy Young. He won the NL pennant as part of the 2015 Mets, but doesn't have a ring despite 20 years in the bigs. He wants to keep playing, but it might not be an option.
All things considered, Dickey had a pretty good season at age 42 in Atlanta last year. The former Cy Young winner had some great stretches but was inconsistent. He did put together back-to-back quality starts to end the season. After his Sept. 26 start, Braves writers noted that he was talking like it was the last start of his career and then he declined to take the ball in his final scheduled outing. This is probably the end of the road.
Uehara was actually very good for much of the first half, serving as one of the Cubs' primary setup men for a stretch. He battled injury and pitched to a 6.75 ERA while coughing up six home runs in his 13 1/3 second-half innings. He didn't appear in a game after Sept. 2. Several reports have said he's likely done in MLB, even though he's publicly said he's shooting for a 10-year MLB career (which would mean he needs to pitch in 2018). Regardless, he's had a good career, notably serving as a stud closer for the 2013 World Series champion Red Sox.
Benoit's pitched in parts of 16 seasons for eight different teams. He's 40 now and coming off a season in which he had a 4.65 ERA, but it was 7.56 after being traded to the Pirates. He was dominant to finish the 2016 season with the Blue Jays, though, so he might find work.
Since we're already here, let's make a just-for-fun lineup.
- Ichiro, CF
- Utley, 2B
- Beltran, LF
- Bautista, RF
- Wright, 3B
- Napoli, 1B
- Drew, SS
- Ruiz, C
- Lackey, RHP
That would've been a pretty stellar lineup several years ago. Now, it would probably be the worst team in the league. Father Time remains undefeated.
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