Blog Entry

Hot Stove League profile: Jim Thome

Posted on: November 26, 2010 5:51 pm
Edited on: November 29, 2010 10:50 am
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For the past three week, CBS Sports' MLB Facts and Rumors has been profiling both free agents and trade candidates who will help stoke the fires of the Hot Stove League. Today, we wrap up with ageless DH Jim Thome.

Hot Stove League When Jim Thome signed a one-year, $1.5 million deal with Minnesota last winter, it was greeted with a collective shrug. Thome had batted .249 in 2009, was traded by the White Sox late in the season for a minor leaguer in a clear salary dump, and was approaching his 40th birthday. A wire story on the signing noted that "he'll be more of a bench player than the middle-of-the-lineup-force he's been for 19 seasons."

Well, Thome exceeded everyone's expectations in 2010, likely including those of the Twins. He had a .283/.412/.627 line at the plate, with his OPS of 1.039 the highest since 2002 and his OPS+ of 178 the second-best of his career. He had 59 RBI and hit 25 homers, bringing his total to 589, eighth all-time. He was productive, healthy, and actually got better as the season wore on.

Thome's not going to sneak up on anybody next year, and he's not going to be available for $1.5 million, either. He's going to be back to make a run at 600 homers, but where?

STATS

2010: .283/.412/.627, 59 RBI, 25 HR in 340 PA.

Career: .278/.404/.559, 1,624 RBI, 589 HR (eighth all-time).

Jim Thome WHAT IT WILL TAKE

Thome should command something in the neighborhood of $5 million for one year, probably with an incentive tied to plate appearances. Since he's made almost $140 million in his career and could be playing his final season, you would think he'd be looking beyond money. He'll want to be somewhere he can play, and he'll want a chance at the World Series ring that has eluded him for two decades.

WHERE HE COULD GO

Thome spoke glowingly of his experience in Minnesota, where the former Twin killer enjoyed huge popularity, and Twins GM Bill Smith is on record as wanting Thome to return. One potential sticking point could be playing time.

The reason Thome played so much in 2010 is because Jason Kubel, who was supposed to be the regular DH, was called upon to play in right field after right fielder Michael Cuddyer had to take over at first due to Justin Morneau's season-ending concussion. The Twins have picked up Kubel's option for 2011, and Thome's return would give them two left-handed designated hitters. Thome, who kills right-handed pitching, could end up in a platoon situation, but not with another left-handed hitter.

So who else could use him? The Red Sox picked up the option on David Ortiz, so there went one good option. The Tigers seemed like a decent fit, but now say newly signed Victor Martinez will DH most of the time. The White Sox have been trying to upgrade at DH, and the Angels and Rays also could use a better option there. There are some losing teams in the market for a DH (Mariners, Orioles), but it seems likely Thome will prefer a contender.

PREDICTION

The Twins are able to promise Thome enough playing time to entice him back for one more run at a title.

OTHER PROFILES
J. Bartlett | H. Bell | A. Beltre | C. Crawford | A. Dunn | P. Fielder | P. Konerko | C. Lee | V. Martinez (SIGNED) | D. Uggla (TRADED) | R. Soriano | J. Upton | J. Werth

-- David Andriesen

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Comments

Since: Jan 11, 2007
Posted on: November 30, 2010 2:42 pm
 

Hot Stove League profile: Jim Thome

Don't forget that Jim was sitting out a few games towards the end of the year due to back stiffness.  Yes, he had great production, but in reality, he was kind of forced in to playing more than he probably wanted to due to the injuries on the team.  So if he were to come back with the expectations of say 75% of the AB's he had last year, I think he'd be cool with that.



Since: Sep 5, 2008
Posted on: November 27, 2010 9:34 am
 

Hot Stove League profile: Jim Thome

Besides being a fan favorite and all round good guy his numbers prove he can still hit, .283 with 25 HR in only 340 plate appearances are dam good.  Playing time is the big factor but I think the Twins can come up with a way to keep him happy and in the game.  Money wise, if Jeter can ask $25 mil a year with his rotten numbers last year, Thome can get $5mil with his. (Just couldn't resist the Jeter jab)


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