This Week in Yankees History: Jorge Posada

This week five years ago, a Yankees legend made the decision to bid farewell to the game he loved after a remarkable career.  On January 24th, 2012, longtime Yankees catcher Jorge Posada announced at a press conference that he had played his final game in pinstripes. Posada had given his heart and soul to the game, but the aging catcher simply had nothing left in the tank. For Yankees fans everywhere, this was a somber day.  Posada’s retirement effectively made Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera the last active members of the ‘Core Four’ that had brought five World Series championships to the Bronx.
Photo Credit: Mike Stobe | Getty Images

Posada was beloved during his 17-year tenure with the Yankees, finishing his career with a .273 batting average, 1,065 runs batted in (RBI), and 275 home runs.  Posada also hit his way to five Silver Slugger awards and five appearances as an All-Star, finishing his career with five World Series rings. Despite all of this, the end of Posada’s playing career was nothing short of tumultuous. 

During the 2010 season, Posada’s decline in production began to spark questions amongst both fans and front office members alike; were Posada’s days as a Yankee coming to an end? That offseason New York’s front office made the decision to sign former Dodgers catcher Russell Martin to a one-year, $6 million contract, effectively ending Posada’s tenure as the Yankees starting backstop.  Martin came to the Bronx with an impressive resume, having accumulated two All-Star Game selections, a Silver Slugger award, and a Gold Glove award in just five seasons with Los Angeles.  Yankees fans were sad to see Posada lose his starting job, but Martin proved to be an upgrade over the aging veteran after slugging .408 and driving in 65 runs en route to his third All-Star Game appearance.

After a contentious spring training in 2011, Posada was named the starting designated hitter (DH), making Opening Day 2011 the first in a decade in which the former All-Star was not behind the plate.  The Yankees also went into the season with career minor-leaguer Gustavo Molina as their backup catcher, with manager Joe Girardi stating that Posada would not be catching that season.  Francisco Cervelli would go on to replace Molina as the backup catcher after his return from injury on April 29th.  Near the conclusion of a dismal 2011 campaign, Posada found himself batting ninth after hitting a mere .234 with only 44 RBI.  The next game Posada benched himself, foreshadowing that 2011 would likely be his last season as a member of the Yankees.

Heading into the 2011-2012 offseason, the Yankees had a farm system stacked with talent, with four of their top 16 prospects being catchers. These young backstops included New York’s number one prospect Jesus Montero, who would become a key piece in the trade to Seattle for starting pitcher Michael Pineda.  Also in the farm system was number two prospect Gary Sanchez, who would finally find success in New York after a monster rookie campaign in 2016 in which he beat out All-Star Brian McCann for the starting role.  The Bombers had also re-signed Russell Martin, who was coming off one of the best seasons of his career, to another one year contract, this time worth $7.5 million.

Between the abundance of catching in the Yankees organization as well as Posada’s poor performance in the final year of his contract, the two parties mutually agreed that it was time to part ways.  In a tearful press conference, Posada announced his retirement from the game effective immediately.  His career was celebrated with New York retiring his number 20 during a ceremony at Yankee Stadium in 2015, a perfect ending to a memorable career.

Article by: Matthew Smith


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