Nearly 20 years after making his major league debut with the Oakland A's, Jason Giambi has announced his retirement as a major league baseball player. Giambi told the New York Daily News on Monday that his days as an active player are done in a statement he sent to the paper, which can be read here. He retires as one of the greatest hitters in Oakland A's history.
Giambi was the A's second-round pick in the 1992 draft out of Long Beach State. Giambi climbed quickly through the A's organization, posting a 906 OPS for High-A Modesto in 1993 and splitting his 1994 season between Double-A Huntsville and Triple-A Tacoma. After putting up a 978 OPS in 55 games for Triple-A Edmonton at the start of the 1995 season, the A's recalled their young slugger, kick-starting an era of A's baseball that was epitomized by Giambi's power and swagger.
When Giambi first arrived in Oakland, he was a nomad defensively. With Mark McGwire at first base, Giambi played some first, some third and some left and right field during his first two-and-a-half MLB seasons. When McGwire was traded to St. Louis in 1997, Giambi was able to take over as the A's everyday first baseman, a position he held through the 2001 season.
Giambi caught the attention of fans around the Bay Area when he announced that "to hit sexy, you've got to look sexy." For the first few years of his career, Giambi was THE reason to turn into Oakland A's games. He posted OPSs of 836, 857 and 873 for the 1996-1998 Oakland A's teams that were routinely in the basement of the AL West.
In 1999, the fortunes of the A's franchise began to turn around, and Giambi was a big part of the A's revival. He hit .315/.422/.553 with 33 homers and 123 RBI for a team that flirted with a post-season berth. In 2000, the A's finally broke through with their first AL West title since 1992, the year Giambi was drafted. "G" won the AL MVP that season, batting .333/.476/.647. He led the league in OBP, OPS+ and walks, while also hitting 43 homers and driving-in 137.
The 2001 season was, at times, a trying one for Giambi and the A's. The A's and their superstar had a very public negotiation on a possible extension during spring training that year, at one point looking close to an agreement. When no agreement could be reached, Giambi entered the 2001 season with the weight of being a pending free agent on his mind. That distraction and a sore shoulder got Giambi and the A's off to a slow start in 2001, and they could only watch as the Seattle Mariners ran away with the AL West. However, Giambi and his teammates started to heat up in June, and for the final four months of that regular season, the A's were the best team in baseball. Giambi hit .342/.477/.660, leading the league in doubles, walks, OPS, OBP, SLG and OPS+. He would finish second in the AL MVP voting to Ichiro Suzuki.
That off-season, Giambi signed a seven-year free agent deal with the New York Yankees. Giambi put together two spectacular seasons with New York in 2002 and 2003, but in 2004, he played in only 80 games. By then, he was caught-up in the steroid scandal that was engulfing baseball. Giambi's career with New York was plagued by the steroid scandal and by a poor run in the post-season by the Yankees that left Giambi without the World Series ring he had gone to New York to win.
In 2009, Giambi returned to the A's on a one-year free agent deal. He struggled in his return to Oakland, although he was, by all accounts, a huge positive influence in the young A's lockerroom. He hit only .193 in 83 games, however, and he was released by the A's late in the season. He signed with the Colorado Rockies and remained with Colorado through the 2012 season, serving as a pinch-hitter, occasional first baseman and DH in AL parks. In 2013 and 2014, Giambi had a bench role with the Cleveland Indians.
Giambi retires with a .277/.399/.516 line in 2,260 MLB games. He is the oldest player to hit a walk-off homerun. He walked 1,366 times in his career and hit 440 homeruns. Giambi played the most games in his career with the A's: 1,036. He had his best numbers with Oakland, as well, batting .300/.406/.531 with 198 homers. Giambi holds the franchise record for highest OBP in one season (.477 in 2001) and is second in Oakland A's history in career OBP (.406) behind only Rickey Henderson. Giambi is second in Oakland A's history in career SLG (.531) behind only Mark McGwire. He is the Oakland A's career leader in OPS (938) and is fifth in Oakland A's history in homeruns (198).
Giambi has been considered for a few MLB coaching positions over the past couple of years and many around the game expect him to be an MLB manager in the future.