Fourteen year MLB veteran Carlos Lee has announced his retirement from baseball. The former left fielder and first baseman played for five organizations throughout his career, spending most of his time with the Chicago White Sox and Houston Astros. He reportedly received some mild interest this past offseason from a handful of clubs but was unable to land the type of deal that he reportedly had been seeking (reportedly a two year, Major League contract). Having just turned 37, Lee elected to retire rather than continue to pursue an opportunity to play.
Signed as an amateur free agent by the White Sox in 1994, Lee would hit .288/.340/.488 with 152 HR and 552 RBI over his first six seasons in the Major Leagues. He was reliable and consistent for Chicago, never appearing in under 127 games once he made his debut in 1999. In 2004 he’d hit .305/.366/.525 in 658 PA, adding 31 HR and 99 RBI. Chicago would trade him in the following winter to the Milwaukee Brewers for Scott Podsednik, Luis Vizcaino, and Travis Hinton.
He’d post two of his strongest offensive seasons in 2005 and 2006. In 1,383 PA over 323 games he’d bat .283/.340/.514 with 69 HR and 230 RBI, adding 78 2B and 32 stolen bases just for good measure. He’d appear in two All Star games in that stretch and won a Silver Slugger Award. Just a season and a half after acquiring him the Brewers once again had Lee on the move, this time dealing him to Texas Rangers along with Nelson Cruz just before the July Trade Deadline in return for Francisco Cordero, Kevin Mench, Laynce Nix, and Julian Cordero. Lee would be a free agent at season’s end.
After signing a significant deal on the free agent market to join the Houston Astros, Lee continued to be an offensive force for the first three seasons of the contract. He’d hit .305/.354/.524 with 86 HR and 321 RBI, adding another Silver Slugger and All Star appearance along the way. Things took a turn downhill from there for Lee, however, as his bat slowed and he struggled defensively to keep up. By late 2009 Lee was already transitioning into a first baseman with the Astros, simply unable to handle the requirements of playing left field at Minute Main Park. He didn’t adjust well to the position change, ultimately affecting not only his bat but the value he brought to the lineup on a daily basis. Lee would slow to a .261/.321/.410 line as his power would completely elude him. He’d become a liability in the field and the Astros would end up covering the remainder of his salary in order to facilitate a deal to send him to the Miami Marlins at the tail end of last season, a move that brought back Matt Dominguez and Rob Rasmussen.
Lee finished his career with 358 HR and a .285/.338/.479 line in just over 8,700 plate appearances. He’d reach the postseason just once in his career, going 1 for 11 with the White Sox in 2000.