Veteran infielder Alex Cintron opts for retirement

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32-year-old infielder Alex Cintron, who had been playing with the Padres’ Triple-A club, decided to retire Tuesday, according to Tucson broadcaster Tim Hagerty.

Cintron chose to quit even though he was playing quite well.  He had two hits in his final game Monday, and he was sporting a .350/.394/.500 line in 60 at-bats for Tucson.

It’s easy to forget now, but the switch-hitting Cintron had 2,056 major league at-bats to his credit.  He won the Diamondbacks’ starting shortstop job by hitting an impressive .317/.359/.389 with 13 homers in 448 at-bats in 2003.  Technically he wasn’t a rookie at the time — though he had only 82 at-bats between 2001 and 2002, he spent too much time on the major league roster to qualify — or he would have found himself on some Rookie of the Year ballots.

Unfortunately, Cintron never duplicated that success.  He played in 154 games for the Diamondbacks in 2004, but he hit .262/.301/.363 and finished with only four homers.   He was somewhat better as a utilityman in 2005, but the Diamondbacks traded him to the White Sox for reliever Jeff Bajenaru after that season.  He went on to hit .268/.299/.366 with seven homers in 473 at-bats for the White Sox over the next two years.

After the 2007 season, Cinton started bouncing around.  He had 133 at-bats with the Orioles in 2008 and 26 with the Nationals in 2009.  He didn’t appear in the majors last year, and he opened this season in Mexico before signing a minor league deal with the Padres.

So, it wasn’t a remarkable career, but it was certainly a very good one for a guy who lasted all of the way to the 36th round in the 1997 draft.  Cintron twice finished in the top 10 in the NL in triples, and on July 8, 2004, he became the first player in Diamondbacks history to homer from both sides of the plate.

Texas Rangers ink free-agent ace Jacob deGrom to 5-year deal

Jacob deGrom
USA Today
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ARLINGTON, Texas — Free-agent ace Jacob deGrom and the Texas Rangers agreed to a $185 million, five-year contract Friday.

The two-time Cy Young Award winner leaves the New York Mets after nine seasons – the past two shortened substantially by injuries.

After making his first start in early August last season, deGrom went 5-4 with a 3.08 ERA in 11 outings. He helped the Mets reach the playoffs, then passed up a $30.5 million salary for 2023 and opted out of his contract to become a free agent for the first time.

Texas announced the signing Friday night after the 34-year-old deGrom passed his physical. A person with direct knowledge of the deal disclosed the financial terms to The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the club did not announce those details.

“We are thrilled that Jacob deGrom has decided to become a Texas Ranger,” executive vice president and general manager Chris Young said in a statement. “Over a number of seasons, Jacob has been a standout major league pitcher, and he gives us a dominant performer at the top of our rotation. One of our primary goals this offseason is to strengthen our starting pitching, and we are adding one of the best.”

Texas went 68-94 last season and then hired Bruce Bochy, a three-time World Series champion with San Francisco, as its new manager. The Rangers’ six straight losing seasons are their worst skid since the franchise moved from Washington in 1972.

The Rangers were also big spenders in free agency last offseason, signing shortstop Corey Seager ($325 million, 10 years) and second baseman Marcus Semien ($175 million, seven years).

This latest blockbuster move comes just before baseball’s winter meetings, which begin early next week in San Diego. The Rangers said deGrom will be introduced in a news conference at Globe Life Field next week following the winter meetings.

When healthy, deGrom is perhaps baseball’s most dominant pitcher. His 2.52 career ERA ranks third in the expansion era (since 1961) behind Los Angeles Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw (2.48) and Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax (2.19) among those with at least 200 starts.

The right-hander is 4-1 with a 2.90 ERA in five career postseason starts, including a win over San Diego in the wild-card round this year that extended the Mets’ season. New York was eliminated the next night.

A four-time All-Star and the 2014 NL Rookie of the Year, deGrom was a ninth-round draft pick by the Mets in 2010 out of Stetson University, where he played shortstop before moving to the mound. He was slowed by Tommy John surgery early in his professional career and didn’t reach the majors until age 26.

Once he arrived, though, he blossomed. He helped the Mets reach the 2015 World Series and earn a 2016 playoff berth before winning consecutive NL Cy Young Awards in 2018 and 2019.

But injuries to his elbow, forearm and shoulder blade have limited him to 26 starts over the past two seasons. He compiled a career-low 1.08 ERA over 92 innings in 2021, but did not pitch after July 7 that year because of arm trouble.

DeGrom is 82-57 with 1,607 strikeouts in 1,326 innings over nine big league seasons.

New York won 101 regular-season games last season, second-most in franchise history, but was caught by NL East champion Atlanta down the stretch and settled for a wild card.

After declining his 2023 option, ending his contract with the Mets at $107 million over four years, deGrom rejected a $19.65 million qualifying offer in November, so New York will receive draft-pick compensation for losing him.

The fan favorite becomes the latest in a long line of ace pitchers to leave the Mets for one reason or another, including Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver, Dwight Gooden and David Cone.

With several holes on their starting staff, the Mets have shown interest in free agents Justin Verlander and Carlos Rodon to pair with 38-year-old Max Scherzer atop the rotation. Now, with deGrom gone, signing one of those two could become a much bigger priority.