In an interview with ESPN’s Marly Rivera on Friday, first baseman and designated hitter Kendrys Morales announced his retirement.
Morales played 13 seasons in the majors and spent time with seven different teams. In 2019 the 36-year-old switch hitter received just 201 plate appearances, beginning the season with the Oakland Athletics and ending it after being released by the New York Yankees in July.
Morales described the reasons for his decision to Rivera, saying he had already missed too many years with his family since he defected from Cuba over a decade ago. He also noted that the evolution of MLB hasn’t exactly been conducive for veteran players.
“Making the decision was difficult, right? But all things in life come to an end,” Morales told Rivera. “I spent many years, since Cuba, playing baseball, and I gave up a lot of time I would have spent with my family. That is the one of the reasons I have decided to retire, to see if I can recover some of that lost time. Also, Major League Baseball has changed, and maybe veteran ballplayers such as myself are not valued, so this is the right time to make this decision. It is hard, but it is the right decision for both me and my family.”
After seven failed attempts to defect from Cuba, Morales finally made it to the United States in 2004 where he signed a six-year $3 million deal with the Los Angeles Angels. Despite exceeding his rookie limits with the Angels in 2006, Morales’s first full season in the big leagues came in 2009. It was the best of his career. He slugged 34 home runs and drove in 108, while hitting .306 with a .924 OPS, earning himself a top-five finish in 2009 American League MVP voting.
A part of the 2015 World Champion Kansas City Royals, Morales may still be best remembered for an injury that occurred in May of 2010. The slugger hit a walk-off grand slam to give the Angels the win over the Seattle Mariners. As he jumped up to celebrate with his teammates at home plate he landed awkwardly, breaking his right ankle. The injury required surgery, causing him to miss the remainder of the 2010 season. He remained out the entire following season after multiple setbacks stunted his rehabilitation.
Morales returned to the game in 2012 and hit 20-plus home runs in six of his last eight seasons. He went on the play for the Seattle Mariners and spent a short stint with the Minnesota Twins, before signing with the Royals as a free agent in December 2014. He played two seasons with Kansas City, winning a World Series ring in 2015. Morales later signed with the Toronto Blue Jays, spending two seasons in Canada, before being traded to the A’s in 2019 and ending his career when the Yankees released him last July.
Morales now leaves Major League Baseball a .265 career hitter with 213 home runs and 740 runs batted in.