Sometime after surgery in early November to repair a core muscle injury, former Twin Michael Cuddyer realized his body was not up to a 19th season of professional baseball.
Following eight trips to the disabled list in four years caused by a strained oblique muscle, an inflamed cervical disk in his neck, a broken shoulder socket, a thigh strain and knee inflammation, it was time to stop.
"It wasn't just the DL stints. It's the aches and pains that every single player goes through over the course of 162 games," said Cuddyer, who spent last season with the New York Mets.
In his official announcement, published Saturday on The Players' Tribune website, Cuddyer wrote: "It goes against every grain in my body to consider a future without the game. But after 15 years, the toll on my body has finally caught up to me."
Cuddyer will turn 37 in March. His $21.5 million, two-year contract with the Mets called for a $12.5 million salary in 2016.
The Twins made Cuddyer the ninth overall pick in the 1997 amateur draft. He made his major league debut Sept. 23, 2001, and soon established himself as a key piece to a club that consistently pushed for postseason berths.
From 2001 to 2011, he played in 1,139 games for the Twins. In that time he hit .272 with 141 home runs and 580 RBI. His .338 batting average in the postseason is second in team history.
His best season as a Twin was in 2006, when he hit .284 with 41 doubles, 24 homers and 109 RBI. He was an All-Star in 2011.
He came up as a third baseman but spent the bulk of his time in the outfield.
He is retiring at the same time as former Twins teammates Torii Hunter and LaTroy Hawkins.
"I texted both them and said if you guys aren't playing, I'm not playing," Cuddyer said.
After leaving the Twins Cuddyer signed as a free agent with Colorado. As a Rockie, he wore No. 3 in honor of former Twins great Harmon Killebrew and won the 2013 NL batting championship by hitting .331.
In his only season with the Mets, Cuddyer hit .259 with 10 homers and 41 RBI in 408 plate appearances and made his first World Series appearance.
"I couldn't ask for a better scenario and a better script for the last year in my career than to play in a World Series," he said.
Cuddyer said he wants to spend time at home with son Casey, who is 7, and daughters Chloe and Maddie, who are 4. And he anticipates helping out with Casey's baseball team.
He can entertain them with card tricks. Cuddyer is an expert.
"I can show them some stuff, and they actually start to get it," he said. "So I've got a whole new generation of audience coming up."