As I read about Geoff Jenkins signing a one-day, one-dollar contract to retire as a Milwaukee Brewer on July 9, it got me thinking about Carlos Delgado. The Jays’ all-time home run leader has not played a big league game since May 10, 2009, and after enduring his second hip surgery in less than a year this past February, it’s unlikely the 38-year-old will ever play again.
I can’t recall the Jays ever consummating one of these one-day, one-dollar type deals to have a player retire as a member of the club. But if Delgado does decide to hang up the spikes (and many feel he will shortly), the Jays should sign him to one of these token pacts and add his number to their Level of Excellence immediately. Roberto Alomar might have been the most talented player in Jays’ history, but Delgado was the best.
Have a look at the Jays’ record book and you’ll see that King Carlos is the club’s all-time leader in most offensive categories, including homers (336), RBIs (1,058), runs (889), doubles (343), total bases (2,786) and extra base hits (690). His 2000 (.344, 41 HR, 137 RBI) and 2003 (.302, 42 HR, 145 RBI) campaigns are the best individual seasons in franchise history. And I still rank Delgado’s four-home run outburst on September 25, 2003 as the greatest single-game performance by any Jay. Blessed with a smile that lit up the room, Delgado was equally impressive off the field. His charitable efforts earned him the Roberto Clemente Award in 2006.
After an embarrassing, low-ball contract offer from then GM J.P. Ricciardi, the Puerto Rican slugger left the Jays after the 2004 campaign . He would play five more big league seasons with the Marlins and Mets and add three more 30-home run, 100-RBI campaigns to his resume. Perhaps the biggest compliment you can pay Delgado is that in an era of rampant steroid allegations, he has never been accused and has maintained a sterling reputation. According to Baseball Reference, Delgado averaged 38 homers and 120 RBIs in a typical 162-game season. Those, my friends, are Hall of Fame numbers. If he retires in the coming months, as many suspect he will, he’ll leave the game with 473 career homers (30th on the all-time list) and a .546 slugging percentage (29th on the all-time list) and a legitimate shot at a plaque in Cooperstown.
Here’s hoping that if he does retire, the Jays take the unprecedented step of signing him to a one-day contract, so he can retire as a member of the team whose logo should adorn his Cooperstown plaque.