Some baseball players go out on top. Some baseball players stay in the game until they’re in their 40s. Very few do both. Darren Oliver seems poised to, however, as Jon Heyman reports that Oliver is leaning toward retirement. This despite the fact that, just yesterday, the Blue Jays exercised his $3 million option.
He certainly has stuff left in the tank. After seemingly petering out as a starter eight years ago, he came back in 2006 as a lefty relief specialist and has been fantastic in the role for the Mets, Angels, Rangers and Jays. This year he posted a 2.06 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and 52/15 K/BB ratio in 56 and two-thirds innings and he’s had an ERA under 3.00 for five straight years.
As he said a month ago, however, baseball isn’t everything, and at age 42, he’s ready for more time with his family. He’s earned it. A really nice career. A damn fine one, in fact.
The Tigers signed catcher Josh Thole to a minor league deal, per an announcement from the Double-A Erie SeaWolves on Friday. Thole is expected to report to Double-A Erie, where he’ll split time with starting catcher Jake Rogers.
Thole, 31, has not appeared in a major or minor league game since 2016. He signed a minors deal with the Diamondbacks back in 2017, but was sidelined through most of the season after undergoing hamstring surgery in April. He was released by the team during spring training and failed to catch on with another major league club through the first two months of the 2018 season.
While the veteran backstop hasn’t tested his skills in pro ball for several years now, he held his own during a short-lived run with the independent New Britain Bees of the Atlantic League. Over 17 games in 2018, Thole batted .317/.425/.367 with three extra-base hits and a .791 OPS in 75 plate appearances. He’s expected to serve as catching depth within the Tigers’ organization, but may yet work his way back to the majors if he can get his average back over the Mendoza Line again — a feat he hasn’t managed since 2015.