A veteran of nine major-league seasons, May was once considered a top-10 prospect in the Twins system, coming up through their minor-leagues as a starting pitcher. May made his big-league debut in 2014 and was lit up as a starter. While he made a handful of starts for Minnesota the next year he was mostly used out of the bullpen, where May would settle into a regular role. Tommy John surgery wiped out his 2017 season but he returned and provided the Twins with three more seasons of solid relief work before heading to the Mets for a couple years. May had one good season and one bad season in New York before hitting the free agent market again.
The A’s signed May to a one-year contract back in December of ‘22. It was a $7MM contract that made him not only the expected closer, but also the highest-paid player on the 2023 Athletics.
What were the expectations?
As the highest-paid player on the team the hope was that May could be a stabilizing force at the back-end of the Oakland bullpen. There weren’t many proven arms going into the season so having May really helped establish some roles early on for the ‘pen.
Things started out positively enough as May was the winning pitcher on Opening Night after pitching a clean 8th inning to keep the Athletics within striking distance. The month of April was not nearly as kind to May though as he struggled to adjust to the brand-new pitch clock. In his first six innings wearing the Green & Gold May gave up nine runs. By the end of the month May was on the IL due to anxiety, which has not historically been something easy for baseball players to admit to.
May deserves a lot of credit for acting on an issue going on, and then speaking up about the struggles of trying to “tough it out”. May was at the time just the third player in 2023 to leave his team to focus on their mental health, behind fellow closer Daniel Bard and outfielder Austin Meadows.
After spending roughly a month away from the team, May made his return in late May and never looked back. That respite away from the game seemed to be just what the doctor ordered as May nailed down the next 20 out of 22 save opportunities on the year. His post-All Star Break ERA? Oh, just a nifty 1.50 in 24 games. For someone who only had 12 career saves entering the season, reaching the 20 save threshold is something to write home about.
While he wasn;t expected back with the A’s, May could have still found a solid deal similar to the one he inked with the Athletics. Instead, May decided to walk away and call it a career, walking away from the game after arguably his best season.
May’s leadership in speaking out about mental health and anxiety is a big enough reason to appreciate May’s contributions to the A’s (and the sport as a whole), but May really endeared himself during his retirement announcement. He used his last words as a major-league player to blast Athletics owner John Fisher and implored him to take the advice of the fans, and Sell the Team.
"Sell the team, dude," Trevor May says. "Take mommy and daddy's money somewhere else. Dork. If you're going to be a greedy f---, own it. There's nothing weaker than being afraid of cameras."— Steve Berman (@BASportsGuy) October 16, 2023
Gotta imagine just about everyone who played for the A's in 2023 feels the same. https://t.co/EXDfKFa40s
While that might be a pipedream at this point, it was nice to hear those words from a player that was actually on the team. It was understandable that current players don’t want to rock the boat, especially young guys who are just getting their first crack at the big leagues, but with May retiring he felt free to let it fly. Athletics fans appreciate every word, every pitch, and everything May did for this club. And for that, we wish him nothing but the best moving forward into retirement. Congrats on the career, Trevor, and thank you!