Former Red Sox star Adrian Gonzalez makes unexpected retirement announcement

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 04: Adrian Gonzalez #28 of the Boston Red Sox hits against the Cleveland Indians at Fenway Park on August 4, 2011 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 04: Adrian Gonzalez #28 of the Boston Red Sox hits against the Cleveland Indians at Fenway Park on August 4, 2011 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images) /

Former Red Sox star Adrian Gonzale has retired from baseball

Adrian Gonzalez officially announced his retirement in a social media post on Saturday after 15 major league seasons, two of which were at least partially spent with the Boston Red Sox.

Gonzalez’s announcement won’t grab quite as many headlines as Tom Brady’s retirement earlier this week. It’s also far less controversial. At least Gonzalez thanked the Red Sox, along with each of his former teams, in his Instagram post.

The news is a bit unexpected since Gonzalez hasn’t played in a major league game since 2018. Most fans probably assumed he was already retired. Granted, his former Red Sox teammate, Jonathan Papelbon, has been out of the game for even longer and still refuses to accept that he’s retired. A player’s career isn’t truly over until they say it is.

Gonzalez’s last stint in the majors was when he played 54 games for the New York Mets in 2018. Last year, Gonzalez resurfaced in the Mexican League. He hit .340 with a .943 OPS and six home runs in 43 games, showing that his ability to hit hadn’t abandoned him at the age of 39.

The Red Sox acquired Gonzalez prior to the 2011 season from the San Diego Padres in exchange for Casey Kelly, Anthony Rizzo, Rey Fuentes, and Eric Patterson.

Gonzalez was an All-Star in his first season in Boston, leading the league in hits while batting .338/.410/.548 with 27 home runs and 117 RBI. He earned Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards while finishing seventh on the AL MVP ballot.

A historic September collapse that season sent the Red Sox into a tailspin that became even more chaotic the following year under the failed leadership of new manager Bobby Valentine. A fractured clubhouse was in desperate need of an overhaul.

Fortunately, the Red Sox were saved by the desperation of another club. The Los Angeles Dodgers were so enamored by Gonzalez, they were will to take Carl Crawford‘s disastrous contract and a disgruntled Josh Beckett along with the star first baseman. The blockbuster deal shed about a quarter of a billion dollars from the payroll, allowing the Red Sox the financial flexibility they needed to rebuild quickly.

Losing Gonzalez after less than two seasons was a tough pill to swallow. Particularly since they traded away one of their best prospects to acquire him. Rizzo was beginning to emerge after the Padres shipped him to Chicago Cubs and he would blossom into a three-time All-Star and MVP candidate.

Boston could have been patient by waiting on Rizzo to develop instead of trading for an established star. However, without Gonzalez to sweeten the pot, they may never have unloaded the overpriced malcontents who contributed toward a toxic clubhouse.

Gonzalez’s tenure in Boston always seems to have been underappreciated. He’s best known for being part of the Dodgers deal that allowed the Red Sox to reset the roster by building around high character veterans. The plan panned out to perfection as the Red Sox rode their revamped roster to a World Series title in 2013.

The drastic restructuring may not have been possible without Gonzalez being involved in that trade. While he’ll always be remembered as the key to that franchise-altering trade, we cannot forget that Gonzalez was one of the league’s best hitters during his brief time in Boston.

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