After failing to find a closing situation to his liking this offseason, the 43-year-old closer told MLB.com's Barry Bloom that he won't be coming back for another season in 2011. Barring a midseason comeback, that would set baseball's all-time career saves leader for a first-ballot Hall of Fame induction in 2016 (an honor he would likely share with Ken Griffey Jr.(notes) that year).
Though Hoffman told Bloom he won't be doing the "one-day contract" deal so he can retire as a member of the San Diego Padres, he and the team plan to hold a press conference on Wednesday, where they will announce his new role in the team's front office.
"It's time to retire. It's time to move on," Hoffman said via phone from San Diego, where he and his family still make their home. "This is more of a self-evaluation. I expect to pitch at a certain level and I had to be honest with myself that I wasn't certain I could maintain that anymore."
It's likely that Hoffman won't own the saves record by his induction — Mariano Rivera(notes) is only 42 saves off his pace — but that doesn't diminish his career one bit. He'll go down as one of history's most feared closers and if Tony Gwynn(notes) is Mr. Padre then Hoffman is his consigliere around Petco Park. (He also made quite an impression with fans of the Milwaukee Brewers, the team that hosted his final two years and his 600th save party.)
Originally drafted as a shortstop by the Cincinnati Reds in 1989, Hoffman was converted to a pitcher in 1991 and then drafted by the Florida Marlins in their expansion draft in 1992. He pitched for one season in Miami before moving west to San Diego (in a trade for Gary Sheffield(notes)), where he would save 40 or more games in nine different seasons, reach the World Series in 1998 with a league-best 53 saves and establish his introduction music — AC/DC's "Hell's Bells" — as one of the songs most closely associated with a Major League Baseball player. (Twenty years from now, the batters of this generation will still wake up in a cold sweat after experiencing nightmares involving that song and his trademark changeup.)
Hoffman finishes his career with a 2.87 ERA, seven All-Star appearances and two second-place finishes in the Cy Young balloting (1998 and 2006). He had a heck of a run and a heck of a career.
We were lucky to see him perform at such a high level for so long.