Outfielder Denard Span has decided to retire from Major League Baseball after 11 seasons in the big leagues.
The 36-year-old says he is walking away from the game because of his principles not due to lack of talent or desire to play.
Span mentioned that he would have preferred to walk away from the game on his own terms. However, Span didn’t receive any offers to his liking and decided it was time to hang up his cleats.
A Young Man’s Game
Span believes that changes to the free agent landscape are the main reason why he was forced to retire. He realizes that his ability has taken a hit with age, but felt that he could still contribute to an organization. However, veteran free agents like Span aren’t getting the same type of deals like they used to receive.
Span has not played since the 2018 season when he was with the Tampa Bay Rays and Seattle Mariners. He slashed .261/.341/.419 with 11 home runs and 58 RBI through 137 games that season. The best offer he received after the 2018 campaign was a one-year $1.5 million deal. Span declined that offer and stated he felt that he was worth more than that.
Quiet Free Agency
He decided to wait out the free agent market and see if anything better comes along. However, all of the contracts he received were “take it or leave it” type of deals. Once Spring Training came around Span hoped that things would get better for him. Multiple teams offered Span minor league deals, but he declined them all.
Many free agents similar to Span are getting low-balled in free agency. Veteran players are being forced to settle for one-year deals with low salary. Many organizations would rather use their prospects who are cheaper and under team control for longer. It’s unlikely that this trend changes anytime soon, so many other players might be forced to follow the same path as Span.
At the end of the day, Span decided that being with his family was worth more to him than baseball. He earned more than $58 million throughout his career. Span did not want to play for less than what he felt he was worth. He finished his career with a batting line of .281/.347/.398, 71 home runs, 490 RBI, and 185 stolen bases through 1359 games. It is a shame that he was not able to finish his career on his own terms. Sadly, many other players might be forced to retire early as well.