Trevor Hoffman, certainly the top National League closer of his era, has decided to retire, ending his stellar 18-year career, he told MLB.com in an exclusive interview on Tuesday.The right-handed reliever will finish with an all-time record 601 regular-season saves, 42 ahead of Yankees great Mariano Rivera who is in second place at 559. Hoffman, whose career ended with the Brewers, turned 43 on Oct. 13. He will return to the Padres — the franchise where he built his reputation — in a still undefined front-office role, he said.“It’s time to retire. It’s time to move on,” Hoffman said via phone from San Diego, where he and his family still make their home. “This is more of a self-evaluation. I expect to pitch at a certain level and I had to be honest with myself that I wasn’t certain I could maintain that anymore.”The Padres are planning a news conference on Wednesday at PETCO Park to announce the retirement and Hoffman’s new role.Hoffman, who did not exactly part ways with the Padres amicably after the 2008 season, said it was time to put all that acrimony to rest. The team’s front office has almost completely turned over since then, with only majority owner John Moores still involved in the operations. Hoffman left as a free agent after a breakdown in negotiations, ultimately signing with Milwaukee.“I would say it’s the old adage — that time was the real healer,” said Hoffman, who recorded 552 of his saves pitching for the Padres from 1993-2008. “Sometimes you have to take a step back. I understand that some of it is about baseball being a business, but I don’t really want to rehash all that. There’s been a turnover of people there who wanted to reconcile and I’ve been cool with it. A couple of years definitely makes a big difference.”The Padres did ask Hoffman if he wanted to get back in uniform for one day and retire, but he declined the request.“No I won’t do that,” Hoffman said.
Hoffman pitched the past two seasons and logged his final 47 saves in a Brewers uniform, including the milestone No. 600 on Sept. 7 of last season against the Cardinals. That moment was included in MLB.com’s 10 for ’10 series, and I spoke to Hoffman just before the holidays about his career crossroads. Obviously, he’s come to a big decision since then.