Veteran infielder Mark DeRosa has informed the Blue Jays that he has decided to retire after 16 years in the Major Leagues.
Toronto recently picked up its $750,000 club option on DeRosa's contract for next season, but his status had been in limbo for the past several weeks.
DeRosa was drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the 7th round (212th overall) of the 1996 Major League Baseball Draft. He made his MLB debut on September 2, 1998 as a shortstop. From 1998 through 2001, DeRosa spent much of his time as a backup utility player, playing both infield and outfield. In 2002, though still playing as a backup, DeRosa was starting to play more and more, and enjoyed a successful batting average of .297.
DeRosa started the 2004 season as the starting third baseman for the Braves. He had been strictly a backup the previous bunch of years, but the departure of Vinny Castilla opened the spot for him. His performance as a starter was widely considered unacceptable. DeRosa himself spoke openly of his poor performance, declaring in one interview that even his mother could not tell him she thought he was playing well. After about a month, DeRosa was demoted back to a backup. Chipper Jones moved from left field to third base, where he had played his whole career until 2002. At the end of 2004, the Braves declined to offer DeRosa a contract for the 2005 season.
DeRosa was weighing a return for one more year, but he previously talked at length about wanting to spend more time with his family. It would appear as though that desire ultimately won out.
"I walk away with tons of friends, hopefully the respect of my peers, tons of memories, and proud of the fact that I was able to compete at the highest level in my profession for a long time," DeRosa said at the end of the season. "Something not a lot of guys were able to do. So I hold my head high."
DeRosa had been plagued by a severe wrist injury for the past several years, but he found a way to remain healthy while with the Blue Jays in 2013. He hit .235 with seven homers, 36 RBIs and a respectable .733 OPS. DeRosa was especially valuable against left-handed pitchers, and his presence in the Blue Jays' clubhouse will be sorely missed.
The 38-year-old played for eight organizations and finishes his career with a .268 average and 494 RBIs. His final home run -- No. 100 for his career -- came on July 27. He never made an All-Star team but was considered a very professional hitter who had a lot of versatility in the field.
DeRosa likely won't have much difficulty finding work now that his playing days are over. He would be a natural choice as a future broadcaster (after working on TBS' telecasts this past postseason), while multiple organizations would be interested in his services as a coach considering his ability to connect with -- and mentor -- younger players.
DeRosa exceeded a lot of expectations during his only season in Toronto. He was brought in as the 25th man on the roster, and one of his main duties was to provide some guidance to young third baseman Brett Lawrie. The two hit it off during Spring Training and were seemingly attached at the hip, but in the end, DeRosa's role proved to be much greater than that.
The former seventh-round pick in the 1996 First-Year Player Draft received some starts at second base and third because of injuries, and he also proved to be a solid platoon partner with designated hitter Adam Lind. Perhaps most shocking was that DeRosa ended up starting as the cleanup hitter in eight games, a testament to his resurgence in power that stemmed from a healthy wrist.
----- Source: MLB.com and Wikipedia