It's a tricky situation for aging veterans, knowing how long is too long to hang on. It's hard to replace being a major league player from a financial sense, even if you're just hanging on. But if you've made your money, have a good legacy and want your summers free, it might be time.
That's what longtime reliever Darren Oliver is deciding. The 42-year-old lefty never made huge money in his long career and was still effective last season (2.06 ERA), but doesn't want to take a pay cut from the $4.5 million he made last season in Toronto. He is under contract, as the Blue Jays exercised a $3 million club option.
Meanwhile, Lance Berkman was contemplating retirement after an abbreviated season in St. Louis last season because of injuries. He'll be 37 next month and has made $114 million in salary in his career, including $12 million last season. But according to reports, he's been lured back and will play in the American League again with the Texas Rangers. He'll replace Michael Young as the team's primary designated hitter, and could spell Mitch Moreland at first base. He'll make $10 million, according to an ESPN report.
And then there's Dontrelle Willis. Seems like it's been a generation since he won the NL Rookie of the Year in 2003, and he is still only 30 years old. But he hasn't been an effective big-league pitcher since at least 2006, and actually announced his retirement last summer after getting hit hard in Triple-A with Baltimore. On Friday, he agreed to a minor-league contract with the Chicago Cubs that doesn't even include an invitation to big-league camp. The Cubs are his fifth franchise since 2010.