Two team leaders from the 2011 World Series have decided to call it quits.
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Lance Berkman and Michael Young announced their intention to retire this week after long and successful careers. Young is hanging up the cleats after 14 seasons in the majors; Berkman, after 15 strong years.
The 37-year-old Berkman was a six-time All-Star and four times finished among the top five in MVP voting. And after years of falling short, the switch-hitter finally won a ring with the Cardinals in 2011 when they beat Young's Rangers.
The years since then have been less kind. Berkman played only 32 games for the Cardinals in 2012 before joining the Rangers for the 2013 season. Right knee issues limited Berkman to 73 games, though, and he said his continued troubles have finally convinced him to call it a career.
"It doesn't make sense to play in the physical condition I'm in," Berkman told MLB.com. "I'm not going to keep trying to run out there for the heck of it."
Young's issues aren't physical; on the contrary, multiple teams were interested in bringing on the 37-year-old for the 2014 season. As recently as Wednesday it was reported the Dodgers were trying to convince Young to put off retirement to serve as the team's starting second baseman. Ultimately, Young decided to retire to spend more time with his family.
The infielder's career is less heralded than Berkman's, but Young went to six straight All-Star games from 2004 to 2009 and participated in seven total. Young was also a Gold Glove winner and twice finished eighth in the AL MVP race. He'll retire as the Rangers' all-time leader in games played, runs scored, hits, doubles and triples.
Young is expected to make his announcement Friday. Berkman, who told MLB.com's Richard Justice of his decision Wednesday, said he'll spend the immediate future with his family and will likely end up coaching somewhere. Whatever lies ahead, Berkman said he's ready to go.
"I've had a great career," Berkman said. "I did everything anyone could have set out to do. I'm looking forward to seeing what's next."
Looking For Work
With just days remaining before pitchers and catchers report, some high-profile starting pitchers remain on the free agent market.
Matt Garza and the Brewers finally got the details straight on their four-year, $50 million contract, but little else moved in the pitching market in the aftermath of the Masahiro Tanaka signing. With February around the corner, some starters may be looking at a situation similar to what Kyle Lohse faced in 2013.
The Blue Jays are reportedly ready to jump into the market and have started digging into Ubaldo Jimenez' medical records, but the team has yet to make an offer to a starter. They're also expected to be in on Ervin Santana, A.J. Burnett and Bronson Arroyo while also exploring options via trade.
Santana's market has been very quiet, with multiple teams supposedly having varying levels of interest but none serious enough to pay the right-hander what he's asking. The list of teams interested includes the Cubs, Mariners and Orioles.
The Orioles, though, appear to have their hearts set on Burnett. The right-hander recently stated his desire to pitch in 2014 and would be a helpful addition to an Orioles pitching staff that lacks much sizzle. The 37-year-old makes his offseason home in Maryland, further fueling the fire.
Arroyo recently expressed his frustration with the lack of interest, telling ESPN's Jayson Stark no team has "thrown me an offer yet." That Arroyo remains on the market is somewhat surprising, given that he's not attached to a draft pick, but some more dominos may have to fall before the 36-year-old gets the kind of deal he's looking for.
Hot Stove Quick Hits: Another big name free agent, Stephen Drew, remains without a team in the days leading up to spring training. The Yankees last week denied interest in Drew, and the Mets followed suit this week. His best -- and only, possibly -- option may be a return to Boston ... there was some belief that David Ortiz was asking for a long-term contract extension from the Sox, but Ortiz cleared the air Wednesday, saying, "We're good. We talked, they're talking and I just asked for one year." Ortiz' current contract expires at the end of the 2014 season ... the Orioles, Mets and Mariners are three teams linked to Fernando Rodney. Rodney represents what's left of the free agent closer market ... the Mariners are also believed to be the most interested party for Nelson Cruz. SiriusXM's Jim Bowden said the team "may make an offer to Nelson Cruz as early as Thursday]" ... the Reds and Aroldis Chapman avoided arbitration with a one-year, $5 million deal. Other pre-arbitration deals included the Cubs and Justin Ruggiano settling, and the Cardinals agreeing to terms with their last arbitration-eligible player, Daniel Descalso ... even with Young retiring, it looks as though the second base job for the Dodgers will be an open competition this spring. The Dodgers like newly signed Alexander Guerrero's bat but have serious concerns about his defensive ability at the keystone.