New York Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira will retire when the 2016 season concludes. Teixeira is 36 years old, and his eight-year, $180 million contract will expire at the end of this season. He has struggled with injuries the past few years but will be able to call his career a very fine one.
Teixeira came up with the Texas Rangers in 2003 and made an immediate impact with 26 home runs and 84 RBIs right out of the gate. A solid-fielding and switch-hitting first baseman, he also logged some time in the outfield and at third base in his early years. He averaged 35 homers a year for the Rangers until the Atlanta Braves acquired him for the stretch run in 2007. He played well in Atlanta, but the team sank the following year and sent him packing again at the trade deadline, this time to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
The Angels benefitted from his presence, as his .358 batting average and ridiculous 1.081 OPS there helped them reach the playoffs in what was his first taste of playoff baseball. The Angels didn’t last long, as the Boston Red Sox ousted them in the Division Series, but Teixeira did bat .467 in a losing cause.
A free agent after the 2008 season, he signed a long-term deal with the New York Yankees to replace Jason Giambi at first base. It was a new era for the Yankees, who were adding Teixeira, A.J. Burnett, and CC Sabathia to the team just one year after Joe Girardi took over for Joe Torre as the team’s manager. The newish-look 2009 team (they still had the Core Four of Andy Pettitte, Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, and Mariano Rivera) went on to win the World Series for the only ring of Teixeira’s career. He also had one of his finest seasons that year, leading the league in home runs (39), RBIs (122), and total bases (344), and finishing second in the MVP voting behind Joe Mauer.
Teixeira averaged 36 homers, 110 RBIs, and a 3.8 WAR for the next two seasons before the once-durable masher started to break down. He had a calf injury in 2012 after bouts with bronchitis and a persistent wrist injury. He injured his wrist again during the 2013 World Baseball Classic, which pretty much cost him the entire season as he batted just .151 in 15 games. A hamstring injury and more wrist trouble came in 2014 before he enjoyed somewhat of a renaissance last year with 31 home runs before succumbing to a bone bruise on his leg that ended his season in early September. He has battled neck and knee problems this year and has 10 home runs despite a batting average that currently totters beneath the Mendoza Line.
Teixeira hails from Maryland, and many thought he’d sign with his hometown Baltimore Orioles or maybe the Washington Nationals as a free agent before he settled on New York, and was even booed by fans as late as this season. With his contract expiring, some thought he might try to play a few more years with one of those teams before hanging up his spikes, but Teixeira has decided that he’s ready to step off the field.
Teixeira will retire with a World Series ring, 400+ home runs (only the fifth switch-hitter to accomplish that), about 1300 RBIs, five Gold Gloves, three All-Star appearances, and a career full of good memories. He got MVP votes in seven different seasons, quite a nice feat. Health issues in his latter playing years will cloud his chances at the Hall of Fame, but he had a great career. He’s got two months of playing still in him, so let’s applaud him while we can.