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Monday, December 27, 2021

Have Certain Free Agent Former MLB Stars Already Played Their Last Game?

Albert Pujols: 42 in January, Pujols mashed lefties and gave the Dodgers a veteran presence off the bench this year.  Back in October, he said, “I don’t think my time to retire has come. I don’t want to sit in my house next year, knowing that I can still keep playing.”  Pujols is 21 home runs shy of 700 for his career, and he’d be aided by the addition of the NL DH.

Ryan Zimmerman: Zimmerman, 37, had an October send-off at Nationals Park but hasn’t publicly made a decision about retirement.  At a press conference, he said, “Do I want to keep playing? I think I can keep playing. I think I had a really good year with the role that I was supposed to do, and now it’s a decision of whether I want to keep doing that, or do I want to be around my family a little bit more. I think the only thing I kind of told Davey is I started the season around 50/50 and it hasn’t gone up.”  GM Mike Rizzo said Zimmerman has an MLB contract with the team as long as he wants it.

Brett Gardner: Gardner, 38, scuffled with the bat this year but wasn’t much worse than he was in 2016 or ’18.  He wants to return to the Yankees in 2022, but chose a $1.15MM buyout over a $2.3MM player option.

Nelson Cruz: Cruz, 41, has been defying age for many years but managed only a 96 wRC+ in 238 plate appearances after a trade to the Rays.  Before the season, Cruz said “retirement is not on my mind,” and now he might have the chance to DH in the National League.  Cruz is tied with Jeff Bagwell and Vladimir Guerrero at 40th on the all-time home run leaderboard with 449.  It’s easy to see Cruz striving for the 500 club, which currently has 28 members.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: December 27, 2021 at 05:49 PM | 26 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: albert pujols

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   1. Jacob Posted: December 27, 2021 at 08:15 PM (#6058787)
Pujols is a HOFer for sure. Greinke very likely. I think Lester might be the closest of the bunch. Gotta figure he wants to keep going.
   2. sunday silence (again) Posted: December 27, 2021 at 08:59 PM (#6058789)
Gardner is unreal. At 28.6 his foot speed ranks him 85th percentile among Rfers. About mid pack for CF at age 38.

He's only 5 WAR behind Bernie Williams and you could not find two more polar opposites in fielding. With a more refined defensive measures, I wouldnt be too certain he's not the equal of Bernie.
   3. reech Posted: December 27, 2021 at 09:46 PM (#6058790)
Gardner will end up re-signing with the Yankees and play his usual 150 games after all the other outfielders get injured.
   4. Doug Jones threw harder than me Posted: December 28, 2021 at 12:07 AM (#6058802)
never an All-Star, but I would think the chances that Khris Davis plays another game in the majors are 50-50 at best.
   5. Addie Joss Posted: December 28, 2021 at 12:29 AM (#6058803)
In Gardner's early years I thought he was a poor man's Jacoby Ellsbury but now it seems as though Ellsbury (31.2 WAR) was a poor man's Brett Gardner (44.3 WAR).
   6. GregD Posted: December 28, 2021 at 06:08 AM (#6058807)
Be curious how many of these guys play in 22…would guess at least half.
Lowrie will get another low cost offer from the As if he wants it.
Greinke will surely get offers, though who knows at what salary level and with what interest?
   7. . . . . . . Posted: December 28, 2021 at 08:06 AM (#6058808)
Gardner should reach strength & conditioning. He was never a body builder but he was always super fit and durable. Baseball fit. Whatever he was doing is what the Ellsbury’s of the world should be doing.
   8. Rally Posted: December 28, 2021 at 09:08 AM (#6058812)
In their first year as teammates, 2014, Ellsbury and Gardner had nearly identical stats. Before that Gardner was the poor man’s version, after that he was the better player.

Hard to believe that in one year, Ellsbury will have not been playing long enough to get on a HOF ballot.
   9. ThomasPedro Posted: December 28, 2021 at 10:13 AM (#6058820)
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   10. I Am Not a Number Posted: December 28, 2021 at 01:24 PM (#6058832)
Hard to believe that in one year, Ellsbury will have not been playing long enough to get on a HOF ballot.

Doesn't the clock start only after he has formally retired?
   11. I Am Not a Number Posted: December 28, 2021 at 01:26 PM (#6058833)
now it seems as though Ellsbury (31.2 WAR) was a poor man's Brett Gardner (44.3 WAR)

And for all that, Ellsbury earned twice as much as Gardner.
   12. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: December 28, 2021 at 01:30 PM (#6058834)
Doesn't the clock start only after he has formally retired?


I thought it was based on their last game, don't plenty of players never formally retire?
   13. SoSH U at work Posted: December 28, 2021 at 01:30 PM (#6058835)
Doesn't the clock start only after he has formally retired?


No, last game played (except for J.T. Snow).

And it's last big league game. Rickey was still beating the bushes in 2005, but he was on the ballot for the 2009 election, which followed his last big league game in 2013.

   14. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: December 28, 2021 at 01:36 PM (#6058837)
Rickey was still beating the bushes in 2005, but he was on the ballot for the 2009 election, which followed his last big league game in 2013.
I mean, if anyone could pull that off, it’s Rickey.
   15. vortex of dissipation Posted: December 28, 2021 at 02:56 PM (#6058846)
No, last game played (except for J.T. Snow).

And it's last big league game. Rickey was still beating the bushes in 2005, but he was on the ballot for the 2009 election, which followed his last big league game in 2013 (sic)


Have they changed that rule within the recent past? I remember reading that Warren Spahn had to wait to be eligible for the HoF ballot because of his minor league appearances at the end of his career, and his SABR bio seems to confirm it:

His spirits lifted when the Hall of Fame called. Only the sixth player elected in his first year of eligibility — his appearances for Mexico City and Tulsa kept his name off the ballot two additional years — Spahn was admitted in 1973 along with posthumous induction for his son’s favorite player, Roberto Clemente.
   16. Adam Starblind Posted: December 28, 2021 at 02:57 PM (#6058847)
He was fast enough.
   17. SoSH U at work Posted: December 28, 2021 at 03:06 PM (#6058848)
Have they changed that rule within the recent past? I remember reading that Warren Spahn had to wait to be eligible for the HoF ballot because of his minor league appearances at the end of his career, and his SABR bio seems to confirm it:


I don't know exactly when it was changed.

Looking back, I see Jimmy Wynn's Mexican League appearance in 1979 didn't delay his appearance (and inexcusable shutout) in the 1983 election.

And yes, Rickey's last MLB game was 2003.
   18. Doug Jones threw harder than me Posted: December 28, 2021 at 04:30 PM (#6058854)
Looking at the list of free agents at B-R, some notable names, free agents, 34 or older, OPS last season < .750

Catchers (not necessarily hitters):
Jeff Mathis
Drew Butera
Robinson Chirinos
Jose Lobaton
Sean Kazmar, Jr. (who?)
Ryan Lavarnway (who?)
Alex Avila
Stephen Vogt
Kurt Suzuki

Hitters:
the aforementioned Khris Davis
Josh Harrison
Jordy Mercer
Brock Holt
Tyler Ladendorf (who?)
Mike Freeman (who?)
Donovan Solano
Pete Kozma
Gerardo Parra

Interestingly, the pickings for pitchers who, say, were 37 and over with a > 4.50 ERA were rather slim
Josh Tomlin
Cesar Valdez
Brandon Dickson
   19. Jose is Absurdly Correct but not Helpful Posted: December 28, 2021 at 04:55 PM (#6058856)
Ryan Lavarnway (who?)


Lavarnway was a central figure in the final day of 2011 drama. He was a fairly well regarded Red Sox catching prospect who had been fairly productive in very limited time. With Varitek and Saltalamacchia struggling badly Francona gave Lavarnway a look. In game 161 he clubbed two homers and made a great defensive play (think Ruiz to close out Halladay's no hitter in the playoffs). So to break up the lefties (Ortiz, Gonzalez, JD Drew) Lavarnway batted fifth in game 162.

It did not go well. He grounded out his first time up leading off the second. In the third with two outs and a man at third Showalter walked Gonzalez intentionally and Lavarnway fanned ending the inning. In the fifth with two outs and one on he flew out. In the seventh with a runner at third and two outs Showalter had Gonzalez walked again, Lavarnway cooperated by grounding out. In the ninth with runners on the corners and one out Showalter issued his third intentional walk of the day to Adrian Gonzalez. Lavarnway grounded into an inning ending double play.

He never quite put it together. He looked like a guy who might wind up being a Zunino type catcher but never really got into a groove. He actually is still kicking around. He got nine games with the Indians last year and I'm pretty sure he's played for Israel in the WBC.
   20. JJ1986 Posted: December 28, 2021 at 05:12 PM (#6058858)
Kazmar is an infielder who went something like 12 years between MLB stints. He was with the Braves for a large part of that time.
   21. dlf Posted: December 28, 2021 at 05:16 PM (#6058859)
Sean Kazmar, Jr. (who?)


AAA lifer who briefly made a bit of news when he got into a handful (assuming Mordecai Brown's hand) of games this year 13 years after his only other time in the Majors. Played at Gwinnett from 2013 until 2021, utility infielder without the glove for SS.

Edit: or I could have just hit refresh before posting.
   22. Rally Posted: December 28, 2021 at 05:18 PM (#6058860)
I had a close view of that game, sitting a couple of rows back from the Red Sox dugout. I remember being shocked by how slow Lavarnway was on that last DP. Sure, he was a big guy and a catcher. You expect him to be slow. But he was at least young, and I expected he’d at least be faster than David Ortiz. He wasn’t. That last DP happened on a groundout that I didn’t think had any chance of turning into a DP.
   23. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: December 28, 2021 at 05:43 PM (#6058863)
This year, we’ve seen former quality MLB players such as Joakim Soria, Daniel Murphy, Cody Allen, Nick Markakis, Hector Rondon, Jordan Zimmermann, Welington Castillo, and Nate Jones decide to retire.


Kinda funny that "Hector Rondon" and "Nate Jones" made the list of "quality MLB players" to retire this offseason, but not Buster Posey, Alex Avila, or Wade Davis.
   24. Rowland Office Supplies Posted: December 28, 2021 at 09:01 PM (#6058886)
Played at Gwinnett from 2013 until 2021, utility infielder without the glove for SS.


My kid and I went to a Gwinnett doubleheader a few years ago where Kaz got the walk-off hit in the first game and then, pressed into emergency service for an inning, was the winning pitcher in the second game. He's beloved here. Gwinnett will most likely end up retiring his number and I think the Braves were grooming him for a coaching/managing post-playing career.
   25. Walt Davis Posted: December 29, 2021 at 04:05 PM (#6058941)
Mike Freeman's 2019 is an example of "any player can have a run" -- 213 PA, 97 OPS+, 1.2 WAR, 0.5 WAA. The rest of his ML career is 199 PA of about a 25 OPS+ and -1.5 WAR. But his career AAA numbers are far from embarrassing (298/370/417), looks like he can still play a bit of SS so a good guy to have stashed at AAA off the 40-man roster in case of emergencies.
   26. AndrewJ Posted: December 29, 2021 at 06:31 PM (#6058956)
Looking back, I see Jimmy Wynn's Mexican League appearance in 1979 didn't delay his appearance (and inexcusable shutout) in the 1983 election.

Jimmy and Ken Singleton are probably the two greatest ballplayers to be shut out by the BBWAA Hall electorate.

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