Before sunset: 9 players we could be watching for the last time
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Baseball is primarily a young man's game. Once a player enters his 30s, the end of the line can rapidly approach, and every season, we bid adieu to several household names. Folks like Justin Verlander and Nelson Cruz, who seem to get better with age, are the exceptions to the rule.

New York Yankees left-hander CC Sabathia already announced that he'll retire after this season, and he's not changing his mind. Here are nine potential retirees who could join him in waving goodbye.

(Career stats courtesy: FanGraphs, accurate as of Sept. 23)

Felix Hernandez, Mariners

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2724.1 169-135 3.42 1.21 2521 54.1

King Felix should make it to the Hall of Fame unless recency bias reigns.

He was neck and neck with Clayton Kershaw and Justin Verlander as the best pitcher in baseball over his six-year peak from 2009-14. He went 86-56 with a 2.73 ERA and 1.10 WHIP and topped 200 innings each time, maxing out at 249 2/3 innings in his 2010 Cy Young campaign. Between 2008 and 2015, no pitcher in baseball threw more innings than Hernandez.

Hernandez is an old 33. In July, as he was dealing with shoulder and lat injuries, he told Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times that it was important for him to keep pitching this year if he wanted to come back next year. More recently, he said he's not ready to quit.

Still, his contract is expiring and the rebuilding Mariners seem unlikely to re-sign Hernandez, as he's been a shell of his former self for years. 2019 has been rock bottom: He's 1-7 with a 6.51 ERA in 14 starts.

It would be an unfortunate end for a man whose changeup was once baseball's most devastating pitch - especially since, despite all the miles he's put on his arm since he debuted at 19, he's never played in the postseason.

Alex Gordon, Royals

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1698 .258 .752 186 736 32.1

Gordon carved out a solid 13-year career in Kansas City after being an incredibly highly touted prospect. Selected second overall in the 2005 draft, Gordon primarily served as a third baseman as a rookie in 2007 before deftly transitioning to the outfield in 2010.

From 2011-15, Gordon was one of baseball's most productive hitters. He slashed .281/.359/.431 and appeared in three All-Star Games while accruing 24.2 wins above replacement. An integral part of the 2015 World Series champion Royals, he parlayed his stellar play into his current four-year, $72-million contract.

Gordon and the Royals hold a $23-million mutual option for 2020 that probably won't be triggered. The outfielder hasn't made a decision, but retirement is on his mind, as he told The Athletic's Andy McCullough last week.

Curtis Granderson, Marlins

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2050 .803 343 936 153 47.7

The Grandy Man can't ... at least, not anymore. After showing glimpses of his old self as recently as a year ago with the Toronto Blue Jays and Milwaukee Brewers, Granderson's put up the worst line of his career in 2019. The 38-year-old is batting .186/.285/.356 with 11 home runs in 130 games and has been largely relegated to pinch-hit duties since mid-August.

From 2006-17, only eight players tallied more home runs than Granderson's 311. In that same time period, he and Ryan Braun are the only players with 300 homers and 100 stolen bases.

Ben Zobrist, Cubs

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1647 .783 167 767 116 44.4

Zobrist's future is up in the air as he hits free agency after spending much of the season on the restricted list dealing with a personal matter.

The 38-year-old will go down as a key contributor for three of his four teams. He came of age as a poster boy for versatility with the Tampa Bay Rays. From 2006-14, he played every position other than catcher and pitcher. His best season came in 2009 when he batted .297 with 27 home runs and 17 stolen bases.

His legacy will be tied to back-to-back World Series championships with the Kansas City Royals in 2015 and Cubs in 2016. The latter broke the Curse of the Billy Goat and ended the longest championship drought in Major League Baseball, and Zobrist took home MVP honors after hitting .357/.419/.500 over the seven-game series.

While his brief stop in Oakland was unremarkable, Athletics fans can rest easy knowing that trading Zobrist netted Sean Manaea from Kansas City.

Brian McCann, Braves

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1752 .262 .789 282 1018 54.4

McCann's homecoming to Atlanta on a one-year deal last offseason seems like an appropriate bookend to his career.

The Georgia native has been part of two eras of Braves baseball. In his first stint, he caught John Smoltz, Tom Glavine, and Tim Hudson, and he hit alongside Chipper Jones, Andruw Jones, and Rafael Furcal. As a seasoned vet, he returned to guide the next generation of hurlers like Mike Soroka and Max Fried.

McCann won a World Series with the Astros and had a productive tenure with the Yankees. A seven-time All-Star, he also smacked 20 or more home runs in every season from 2008-16. Since his rookie campaign in 2005, he leads all catchers in home runs and has also been one of baseball's premier defensive backstops.

Russell Martin, Dodgers

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1691 .745 191 771 101 55

Like McCann, Martin returned to his baseball roots when the Blue Jays traded him to the Dodgers in January. He played his first major-league game May 5, 2006, catching right-hander Derek Lowe. He hit .282 with 10 home runs and 10 stolen bases in 121 games, and soon became a fixture in L.A.

Martin made two All-Star teams with the Dodgers and continued to steal bases at an impressive clip for a catcher, tallying 66 in his first five seasons. Batting average was rarely his strong suit, but Martin was as consistent as they come at getting on base (.349 OBP).

He also developed a reputation as one of the game's best pitch framers and defensive catchers, which helped him earn a five-year, $82-million contract from the Blue Jays before the 2015 season.

A note on Martin's teammate Rich Hill: Though he's on the verge of turning 40, hasn't been able to stay healthy, and is about to hit free agency, the left-hander says he has no plans to retire, according to Andy McCullough of The Athletic.

Adam Wainwright, Cardinals

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161-94 2094.1 3.36 1.23 1767 40.6

It looked like Wainwright was finished after an injury-laden 2018. He even contemplated retirement before signing a one-year contract to return to St. Louis. And all he's done is put together his strongest campaign since 2014 when he went 20-9 with a 2.38 ERA and hurled 227 innings.

He hasn't been that good this year, but it might be enough to convince the right-hander to return for a 15th season. Or, maybe he'll decide to go out on a high note. With the Cardinals returning to the postseason, another crack at playoff glory might be the cherry on top of a solid career.

Fernando Rodney, Nationals

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947 327 3.82 1.38 942 8.6

At 42, Rodney is baseball's oldest active player, and it would be no surprise if he walked away. He's pitched for 11 different teams since he debuted for the Detroit Tigers in 2002, and every single one of his 947 appearances came in relief.

Rodney's 2012 season, when he made his first of three All-Star Games, was his best. After signing with the Rays that January, the right-hander posted a 0.60 ERA with a 0.78 WHIP and 48 saves over 74 2/3 innings.

Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox

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1512 .299 .805 140 138 46.6

Pedroia is in a similar situation to longtime New York Mets third baseman David Wright - he's physically no longer able to play despite two years remaining on his contract. It's unlikely he officially retires, though there is a significant chance he never takes the field in a meaningful way again.

If this is the end of the line, Pedroia's built a strong legacy. The four-time All-Star spent his entire 14-year career with the Red Sox, winning AL Rookie of the Year in 2007 and AL MVP the following season when he hit .326 with 54 doubles and an MLB-leading 213 hits. He was an active member of two World Series champions in 2007 and 2013.

Boston fans will continue to hope that the Laser Show gets a swan song, but it's not looking great after his fifth knee surgery. In August, Pedroia said he hoped he could play in 2020, but he later said he's prioritizing his quality of life as he recovers.

Before sunset: 9 players we could be watching for the last time
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