Former Mariners catcher Mike Zunino retires after 11 MLB seasons

Mar 6, 2024, 1:19 PM | Updated: 2:01 pm

Seattle Mariners Mike Zunino...

Mike Zunino of the Seattle Mariners celebrates after hitting a two-run home run on May 8, 2018. (Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

Former Seattle Mariners catcher Mike Zunino, the team’s first-round draft pick in the 2012 MLB Draft, is calling it a career after 11 seasons in the big leagues, his wife Alyssa announced on social media on Wednesday.

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Zunino, 32, was the third overall pick in 2012 after a standout college career at Florida. He debuted for the Mariners in 2013 and became Seattle’s starting catcher for the better part of six seasons between 2013 and 2018.

Zunino was known for being a good defensive catcher with plenty of pop, but he struggled at times with strikeouts and making contact. In 587 games with Seattle, Zunino slashed .207/.276/.406 (.683 OPS) and 95 home runs.

His best year was 2017, when in 124 games he slashed .251/.331/.509 (.840 OPS) with 25 home runs, which was a Mariners franchise record for a catcher until Cal Raleigh broke that mark in 2022. Zunino got hurt early in 2018 and wound up with a .201/.259/.410 (.669 OPS) slash line with 20 home runs in what was his final year with the Mariners.

When the M’s kicked off their rebuild after 2018, Zunino was traded to Tampa Bay. After struggling in 2019 and 2020, Zunino was an All-Star in 2021, slashing .216/.301/.559 (.860 OPS) with a career-high 33 home runs in just 109 games.

Zunino appeared in just 36 games for the Rays in 2022 in what was his final year in Tampa Bay. He signed a free-agent contract with Cleveland last offseason but was designated for assignment in the summer after playing in only 42 games and hitting .177.

While his playing career may be done, Zunino said he plans to stay in the game moving forward.

“While my time on the field has concluded, my passion for baseball remains as strong as ever, and I eagerly anticipate exploring new avenues to contribute to the sport,” he said. “I am excited to bring what I have learned in the game to the next generation of MLB players, and to give back to the game that has given so much to me.”

Zunino joins his former Mariners teammate Nelson Cruz as notable Seattle players who have retired this offseason.

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