Cardinals OF Willie McGee made it official Sunday night, saying his major league career was finished.

Asked whether he was officially retiring, he told KSDK-TV in St. Louis: "I'm going to be home with my family.

"I knew a while ago that this was probably going to be it," he said in the live interview. "The way the season went, the way my season went, it seems like it's just time."

McGee was a World Series hero as a rookie in 1982, when the Cardinals won the championship. He was the NL MVP in 1985, when he batted a league-leading .353 with 216 hits and St. Louis again reached the Series. McGee also won the NL batting title in 1990 at .335, even though he was traded to Oakland on Aug. 29 that season.

But he turned 41 this month, and his performance had slipped the past two years. He hit .251 this season in 271 at-bats, with no home runs and 20 RBI. McGee has 2,254 career hits and a career average of .295. He has 79 homers, 856 RBI and 352 stolen bases.

STAYING HOME: Hall of Famer Frank Robinson declined an offer to join Manager Don Baylor's coaching staff, Cubs GM Ed Lynch said. Robinson, 64, had been offered a two-year contract to serve as Baylor's bench coach. The Cubs said Robinson rejected the offer in part because of concerns over the travel involved.

TAVAREZ IN FOLD: Reliever Julian Tavarez, claimed off waivers last week, agreed to a $1.2 million, one-year contract with the Rockies. The Rockies acquired the 26-year-old right-hander off waivers from the Giants last Tuesday. Tavarez had until Sunday to decide whether to reject the claim and become a free agent.

MORE FOR MATHEWS: Reliever T.J. Mathews more than doubled his annual salary, re-signing with the Athletics for $3.25 million over two years. Mathews went 9-5 with a 3.81 earned run average in 50 games last season, when he made $750,000. He will receive a $200,000 signing bonus and salaries of $1.25 million in 2000 and $1.8 million in 2001.

MERLONI LEAVING: Red Sox IF Lou Merloni has signed to play with the Yokohama BayStars in Japan. "This is a relatively easy decision for me," he said. "You go over there and play every single day--it's something I haven't done in a couple of years--and come back as a free agent."