Following in Mark Mulder’s footsteps, Darin Erstad has made official what everyone assumed by telling a reporter in his native North Dakota that he’s “done.”
I couldn’t be much happier. I got to live a dream playing baseball for 14 years, now I’m getting to live the other side and it’s a blast. I had my time. I always said, “When I’m done, I’m done.” I’m good. I don’t have any complaints. It was 14 very enjoyable years. I gave my heart and soul to the game. I’m comfortable with my decision to move on. Do I miss it? Of course, I loved to play. But what I have at home is great, too.
Erstad tried to find a bench job during spring training, but even then expressed some reservations about being away from his family for “three pinch-hit at-bats” per week. He lives in Nebraska with his wife and three children under four years old.
Mulder had his last good season at age 27, as injuries ruined what was shaping up to be an excellent career, but Erstad played until age 35 despite not being a particularly valuable player after turning 30. He didn’t crack a .700 OPS in any of last five seasons and didn’t top an .800 OPS after 2000.
Excellent and often underrated defense in center field usually made up for Erstad’s inconsistent and ultimately mediocre offense, and the former No. 1 overall pick retires with three Gold Gloves, two All-Star appearances, a World Series title, 1,697 hits, and about $50 million in career earnings.
Free agent outfielder/slugger J.D. Martinez is reportedly seeking an outfield gig, says Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald. According to Silverman’s sources, Martinez’s suitors have been informed that the veteran slugger would give preference to teams that can offer a corner outfield spot, rather than a DH-only role.
That could spell trouble for the Red Sox, who appear to be Martinez’s biggest suitors so far this offseason. Outfielders Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi are firmly established at the corners, and prior reports from club president Dave Dombrowski suggest that center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is not going anywhere anytime soon (thereby eliminating the possibility of reshuffling the outfield). The DH spot is still wide open for Martinez, who doesn’t seem to be totally closed off to the idea, but any full-time or part-time role on the field is likely off the table at this point.
Of course, the Red Sox aren’t the only ones pursuing Martinez’s services this winter. The 30-year-old slugger has been linked to both the Diamondbacks and Giants in weeks past, and while they have the roster flexibility to accommodate his preferences, they’ll need to clear another massive hurdle: the seven-year, $250 million contract he’s said to be seeking. Both clubs will need to get creative to make such a deal work. The Diamondbacks are rumored to be shopping right-hander Zack Greinke in an attempt to free up some room on their payroll for Martinez, while the Giants appear more inclined to scour the trade market for outfield help than shell out cash for another hefty contract in free agency.