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Longtime Major League Relief Pitcher Announces Retirement

A baseball game in Pittsburgh.

PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 03: A general view of PNC Park during opening day between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the St. Louis Cardinals at PNC Park on April 3, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

Left-handed relief pitcher Tony Watson announced his retirement on Monday.

The 36-year-old southpaw confirmed his exit to The Athletic's Stephen J. Nesbitt with a statement expressing gratitude to his family, friends, teammates, coaches, and four former MLB organizations.

“Thank you to all my teammates, peers, coaches, and support staff for all the cherished memories along the way, for providing support to keep me on the field, and experiences that will last a lifetime," Watson said. "Thank you to the Pirates, Dodgers, Giants, and Angels organizations and their fans for the support and opportunity to live out a childhood dream. Thank you to my wife and kids for being with me every step of the way and to my family and friends for always being there and supporting me through it all."

Watson retires with a 2.90 ERA over 11 seasons. He spent the first seven with the Pittsburgh Pirates and represented them in the 2014 All-Star Game before finishing the campaign with a 1.63 ERA, 81 strikeouts, 10 wins, and 34 holds.

From 2011 to 2021, Watson led all relievers with 246 holds and made the second-most appearances (689) behind Bryan Shaw. He was particularly difficult on fellow lefties, who mustered a career .226/.281/.316 slash line against him.

Although he struggled with the Los Angeles Angels last season, Watson posted a 2.96 ERA in 24.1 innings for the San Francisco Giants, who acquired him shortly before the trade deadline. However, a left shoulder strain kept him off their postseason roster.

A healthy Watson could have still helped an MLB bullpen seeking a reliable southpaw, but his shoulder wasn't fully healed.

While Watson never got much glory as a middle relief pitcher who was better at inducing weak contact than missing bats, he was one of the game's premier relievers in his prime.