‘156-homer career’ Kim Ha-Sung retires early at 33, MLs also have ‘extreme’ difficulty finding jobs
By Sanghee Lee] As the global economy continues to deteriorate, there’s a chill in the air in Major League Baseball’s reemployment market. In the past, players who were released during the season were able to find employment thanks to their glamorous past, but the situation is different now. With no teams calling them back, some players are accepting minor league jobs or retiring at a young age.
Venezuelan first baseman Jesus Aguilar (33-Atlanta) is a 10-year major league veteran. He was named an All-Star in 2018 after hitting 35 home runs and 108 RBIs in a single season with Milwaukee. He has been a long ball hitter, hitting double-digit home runs every year from 2020 until last year, when he moved to Miami via Tampa Bay.
Aguilar, who signed with Oakland this season, was released in late May after playing just 36 games. The reason: poor performance. He hit just .221 with five home runs and nine RBIs, and his OPS, which combines slugging and on-base percentage, was just .665.
In years past, a player with Aguilar’s major league experience would have been snapped up quickly, like a lottery ticket that other teams would have scratched off their “just in case” list. But this year was different. Aguilar signed a minor league deal with Atlanta in mid-June and is currently playing for the Triple-A team.
His performance there hasn’t been good, either. As of April 4, Aguilar is batting .200 with one home run and seven RBIs in eight Triple-A games. His OPS isn’t great either, at .639.
The story is similar for Brett Phillips (29-LA Angels), who is known to Korean baseball fans as the son-in-law of former SK manager Trey Hillman (60).
A seven-year major leaguer, Phillips signed a one-year contract with the Angels before the season. He’s not a great hitter, but he’s been recognized for his quick-footed defense and ability to run the bases.
Many still remember his game-winning single off then-LA Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen (36, Boston) in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 4 of the 2020 World Series with runners on first and second in Tampa Bay.
Phillips was touted as a big-time defender and pinch-hitter for the Angels. But after struggling with a .077 batting average and two RBIs in 19 games, he was designated for assignment (DFA) in mid-May. When no team wanted him, Phillips accepted a minor league assignment to the Angels. His Triple-A numbers weren’t great either, batting .198 with one home run and six RBIs.
The situation is even worse for veteran catcher Mike Zunino, 32, an 11-year All-Star who was designated for assignment by Cleveland last month. When no team came forward to claim Zunino after he was designated for assignment, Cleveland released him on March 22. He has yet to find employment.
The Florida native was 안전놀이터추천 selected in the first round (third overall) of the 2012 MLB First-Year Player Draft. His contract was worth $4 million at the time. As a top prospect, he developed so quickly that he made his big league debut just one year later in June 2013.
Despite his lack of power at the plate, Zunino hit double-digit home runs every year for five seasons from 2014 to 2018, and his defense helped him establish himself as a major league catcher. But in 2019, when he was traded to Tampa Bay, his playing time began to dwindle due to frequent injuries, and his performance suffered as a result.
He signed a one-year deal with Cleveland this offseason in hopes of rebounding, but after 42 games, he was unemployed with a .177 batting average, three home runs, and 11 RBIs.
Some players have given up on finding a job after being released and have hung up their uniforms. That’s what happened to Kim’s former teammate Will Myers, 28, of San Diego. The Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) announced Myers’ retirement on social media on Jan. 1.
The North Carolina native spent 11 years in the big leagues, first with Tampa Bay in 2013 and then with San Diego and this season with Cincinnati.
After hitting .293 with 13 home runs in 2013, his first full year in the majors, Myers won the American League Rookie of the Year award and finished his big league career with a .252 batting average and 156 home runs. In 2016, he was named an All-Star and surpassed 1,000 career hits.
He was released by Cincinnati this offseason due to a tight job market and opted for early retirement in his early 30s.