June 21, 2024

Former All-Star catcher Mike Zunino officially retired on Wednesday, as confirmed by a social media announcement from his agency, Wasserman Baseball. At the age of 32, Zunino has decided to step away from the game after completing 11 seasons in the big leagues, during which he earned one All-Star nod and built a strong reputation.

In a written statement, Zunino expressed his gratitude, stating, “With deep appreciation, I am announcing my retirement from Major League Baseball after 11 seasons. As I look back on my career, I am thankful for the support of the baseball community and those who have guided me throughout my journey.”

Zunino’s time at the University of Florida showcased his prowess as both a powerful hitter and a dependable defensive catcher, earning him recognition from scouts. Following his impressive junior year, during which he clinched the prestigious Golden Spikes Award, the Seattle Mariners wasted no time selecting him as the third overall pick in the 2012 MLB Draft.

Despite being swiftly promoted to the majors just a year later, some critics argued that Seattle may have rushed his development, particularly as he faced challenges offensively throughout his tenure. Over six seasons with the Mariners, Zunino appeared in 587 games and posted batting stats of .207/.276/.406, falling below the league average in terms of OPS+ by 11 points.

Nevertheless, Zunino remained a valuable asset to the team, primarily due to his exceptional power and defensive skills. His time in Seattle saw him accumulate 13.6 fWAR, largely attributed to his elite defense, evidenced by his 40 Defensive Runs Saved during that period. Although he displayed above-average offensive performances in 2016 and 2017, the Mariners opted to part ways with him after a challenging 2018 season.

Following a multi-player trade with the Tampa Bay Rays, Zunino returned to his home state for the subsequent season. Despite continuing to struggle with low batting averages and a higher-than-average strikeout rate, he found his niche as a catcher highly valued by pitchers, while also delivering significant offensive contributions.

In 2021, Zunino showcased his full range of skills, delivering his most impressive season to date. Across 109 games, he belted 33 home runs and compiled a batting line of .216/.301/.860, resulting in a stellar 136 OPS+. His standout performance earned him a spot on the All-Star team for the first time, and he even managed to hit a home run off Taijuan Walker during the game.

Following a challenging 2022 season with the Tampa Bay Rays, Zunino briefly joined the Cleveland Guardians ahead of the 2023 campaign. However, his tenure with the team was short-lived, as he appeared in only 42 games before being designated for assignment in June. Subsequently, he opted to sit out the remainder of the season and ultimately chose retirement over pursuing opportunities with another team.

With a career spanning 11 seasons, Zunino leaves behind a legacy highlighted by 149 home runs and a career fWAR of 18.3.

All-Star catcher calls it a career after 11 seasons

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