Tag:Jim Thome
Posted on: January 14, 2011 12:29 pm
 

Twins bring back Jim Thome; Balfour to A's

ThomeThe Twins are bringing back DH Jim Thome, as the club's Twitter feed announces. Kelly Thesier of MLB.com reveals the deal is for $3 million, with salary incentives based on playing time.

Thome, who played for Minnesota in 2010, cranked 25 home runs and could reach 600 career blasts provided he hits 11 in 2011.

While that normally wouldn't be a problem for Thome, playing time may factor in his chase for 600. Thome largely served as a platoon DH for the Twins, playing primarily against right-handers. However, Justin Morneau's concussion opened the door to ample playing time which may be in short supply with Morneau returning and Delmon Young proving worthy of additional playing time.

While the 40-year-old can't play full-time these days, he may struggle to see 250 at-bats in 2011. The Rangers were speaking to Thome about a possible deal, but Texas would have been hard-pressed to guarantee Thome more playing time than Minnesota.

The Twins will have Morneau at first base, Young in left and Michael Cuddyer in right field. That leaves Thome frozen out along with Jason Kubel in what should be a pretty dire roster crunch.

BalfourIn other news, the Athletics are poised to sign Grant Balfour, with only a physical standing in the way as Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. ESPN's Buster Olney adds that Balfour will receive $8.1 million over two years, a pretty penny for a reliever but in a market where relievers are getting outrageous deals, it's not too terrible relatively.

Balfour should setup closer Andrew Bailey and could step in for a few saves himself. The Rays will receive Oakland's second-round pick as well as a compensatory first-round pick, giving Tampa 10 picks prior to the second round.

-- Evan Brunell

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Posted on: January 10, 2011 3:52 pm
Edited on: January 10, 2011 3:53 pm
 

Rangers interested in Thome

Jim Thome The Rangers are interested in free-agent designated hitter Jim Thome, Joe Christensen of the Star Tribune confirms via Twitter .

Thome, 11 homers shy of 600, has balked at re-signing with the Twins so far this offseason following his productive 2010. While no longer a full-time DH, Thome can still be very effective when used correctly, as the Twins did last season when he appeared in 108 games for Minnesota.

Thome was used mostly against right-handed pitchers last season, hitting .302/.455/.698 against right-handers in 246 plate appearance and .241/.298/.471 in 94 plate appearances against lefties. All but two of his 16 homers came against right-handers.

The Rangers are still trying to figure out how to move forward with their lineup after signing free-agent third baseman Adrian Beltre. Michael Young is certain to be moved, but will he be a first baseman or a designated hitter.

Young hit better against left-handers in 2010, .322/.374/.497 last season, while hitting .270/.314/.425 against righties. But if he's a full-time first baseman, he doesn't figure into the designated hitter spot.

However, the team has said it may use him more as a utility player, giving him starts across the infield to spell second baseman Ian Kinsler, shortstop Elvis Andrus and Beltre. Thome's presence could aid that usage of Young.

While Thome's not exactly a perfect, easy fit for the Rangers, he does add to the Texas offense. The Rangers certainly have the money Thome's looking for -- the Twins paid him $1.5 million last season and he's been said to be looking for a raise after 2010, one Minnesota's not sure it can afford.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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Posted on: January 3, 2011 8:03 pm
Edited on: January 3, 2011 8:18 pm
 

DH market still crowded

Vladimir Guerrero If there's a surplus of one position on the free agent market, it may be the designated hitter spot.

Jim Thome, one of last season's bargain pickups, is still unsigned, as are Vladimir Guerrero, Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon. And then there's the not-retired Jermaine Dye, Jason Giambi, Russell Branyan, Jose Guillen and Hank Blalock.

So far this offseason, the Red Sox exercised their option on David Ortiz, the Yankees have said they'll move Jorge Posada out from behind the plate, as will the Tigers with newly-signed Victor Martinez. Adam Dunn will be a first-time designated hitter with the White Sox.

As for teams with needs, that includes the team Thome DH'd for last season, the Twins, who would like him back. Of course, after putting up the year he did, he feels like he deserves a raise -- especially with his 600th career home run likely coming this season. The Rays, Angels and Rangers also have obvious needs, while the Orioles, Royals and Blue Jays could upgrade at the spot or stay put.

As it stands, here how the current AL DHs line up:
Orioles -- Luke Scott
Red Sox -- David Ortiz
Yankees -- Jorge Posada
Blue Jays -- Edwin Encarnacion
Rays -- Matt Joyce
White Sox -- Adam Dunn
Indians -- Travis Hafner
Tigers -- Victor Martinez
Royals -- Billy Butler
Twins -- Jason Kubel
Angels -- Mike Napoli
A's -- Hideki Matsui
Mariners -- Jack Cust
Rangers -- David Murphy

And here's who is left on the market (2010 AVG/OBP/SLG HR, RBI)
Jim Thome .283/.412/.627 25, 59
Vladimir Guerrero .300/.345/.496 29, 115
Manny Ramirez .298/.409/.510 16, 42
Johnny Damon .271/.355/.401 8, 51
Russell Branyan .237/.323/.487 25, 57
Jason Giambi .244/.378/.398 6, 35
Andruw Jones .230/.341/.486 19, 48
Hank Blalock .254/.319/.349 1, 7
Jose Guillen .258/.314/.416 16, 62
Jeremy Hermida .216/.268/351 6, 29
Troy Glaus .240/.344/.400 16, 71
Mike Sweeney .252/.321/.444 8, 26
Jorge Cantu .256/.304/.392 11, 56
Jermaine Dye (2009) .250/.340/.453 27, 81

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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Posted on: January 3, 2011 10:26 am
Edited on: January 3, 2011 11:45 am
 

Twins may not be able to afford Thome and Pavano

Carl Pavano Many of us have assumed Carl Pavano and Jim Thome would return to the Twins, but as of today, both are still free agents.

While Pavano was obviously waiting out Cliff Lee, Lee's been in Philly for some time now and Thome has seen lesser hitters (Lance Berkman, Derrek Lee) sign for big money while waiting for the Twins to make their move. According to La Velle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune, the Twins might not be able to afford both Pavano and Thome.

Last season, the two were bargains. Thome made $1.7 million and had 25 homers in the homer-averse Target Field. Pavano made $7 million last season, but earned that in today's market, going 17-11 with a 3.75 ERA.

The formerly small-market Twins have 11 players under contract at $78.725 million and then have six arbitration cases. The Star Tribune estimates those six players could raise payroll to "roughly $98 million" for 17 players. Even at league-minimum, the rest of the roster -- not including Thome or Pavano -- would easily push the payroll above $100 million. That crunch is why the team wasn't able to keep relievers Matt Guerrier and Jesse Crain.

Pavano and Thome have stated they enjoyed playing in Minneapolis and would like to return, but this offseason seems to be putting a dollar amount on just how much that enjoyment of playing for the Twins is worth, and it may not be a small price.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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Posted on: December 15, 2010 9:32 pm
Edited on: December 15, 2010 9:40 pm
 

Top 10 free agents remaining

Okay, so all the big names are off the board now, and quite a few solid names are gone as well.

Now teams are left to fight over the scraps, and how clubs go about filling their holes with the remaining names can have major implications on a season. There will be teams who are done spending and shopping for bargain-bin pickups, teams who have been jilted and can spread money around and more.

No more Cliff Lee, Carl Crawford, Jayson Werth or Victor Martinez may not be exciting, but there's still plenty more machinations ahead. The trade market may also start heating up now that teams can more clearly identify their holes or surplus players.

So who are the top 10 free agents left?

Gregg 10. Kevin Gregg

Gregg closed for Toronto in 2010 and surprisingly held his own in the AL East after years of being a miscast closer and flaming out of Chicago. He's still not a great option, but as someone willing to ink for just two years, Gregg's market may open up what with the crazy three-year pacts being handed out.

How about: The Orioles seem to be the top (only?) suitor for Gregg, so let's take the safe route here and tab Gregg to the O's. This would push Mike Gonzalez and Koji Uehara to setup roles, and give the O's what suddenly looks like an intriguing top three in the bullpen that could do wonders for the young rotation's confidence in nailing down wins.

Fuentes 9. Brian Fuentes

Fuentes is another mediocre closer but as a left-hander with strikeout stuff, is in plenty of demand as both a setup man and closer. Fuentes is looking to max out the years on his contract but has a top team in the Red Sox chasing him, plus plenty of other clubs with the financial wherewithal to import Fuentes.

How about: The Yankees. New York has money to toss around and a need for a left-handed reliever. Fuentes ranks above Pedro Feliciano in the remaining market for lefties and Fuentes may be willing to pitch just in front of Mariano Rivera. He's likely too pricey for Colorado.

Hall 8. Bill Hall

Hall revitalized his career in Boston as a super-utilityman and rediscovered the pop he left behind mid-decade in Milwaukee. Another good season would really open up his career prospects. He's been closely linked to the Dodgers, but there's no shortage of teams that would want him as a backup. The club that can offer him the most playing time is likely the team that snags him.

How about: The Dodgers. L.A. has made a habit of collecting average players and hoping quantity beats out quality. Problem: they still haven't solved their left-field conundrum. Hall makes a lot of sense here as he can back up at multiple positions and serve as insurance in case they need to move him out from left field.

Thome 7. Jim Thome

Thome is 40 years old and still bashing home runs, cranking 25 in 340 plate appearances for the Twins. However, he looks to be squeezed out by the impending return of Justin Morneau and emergence of Delmon Young. As someone who will come on a one-year deal and a cheap base salary, any team with a hole at DH has to be interested.

How about: The Rays. The market for DHs is small, but Tampa Bay are one such team that could use Thome's thump and have a DH spot -- and no potential for losing the spot -- waiting for him. In addition, Thome could benefit from the short porch in Yankee Stadium and the moving in of the right-field fence in Boston.

Jenks 6. Bobby Jenks

Jenks has often had a tumultuous career in Chicago as Ozzie Guillen hs never been a fan. However, Jenks was actually better than Rafael Soriano in 2010. Jenks's xFIP was 2.62, while Soriano checked in at 2.81. Over the next three years, Soriano is certainly the better property, but the point is that Jenks has actually been a better pitcher these last few years than given credit for.

How about: The Rays. Yes, Tampa Bay is slashing payroll, but they still have some room to spend dollars. They have an empty bullpen, putting them in position to pick and choose from any remaining reliever out there and handing them the closer's job. Jenks, however, is the only one who would likely accept a one-year deal to rebuild his value before hitting free agency again after the year. Tampa won't complain about that. (The Jays were the original pick here, but a Hardball Talk report that has Jenks and Tampa Bay close to an agreement changed that.)

Lee 5. Derrek Lee

Lee started the year hobbled by a thumb injury, and Aramis Ramirez's own struggles compounded the issue for the Cubs. Lee bounced back in the second half and showed he wasn't cooked with the Braves. However, his stock is down enough that a one-year deal could work in his best interest -- and teams would be only too happy to oblige.

How about: The Padres. Lee is a Northern California boy, and is the best first baseman remaining on the market. The Orioles seem focused on Adam LaRoche, and the Nats are talking to LaRoche as well, but Lee should provide the bigger bang for the buck in 2011. The Padres desperately need a first baseman and could make the case to Lee that they are better positioned to win in 2011 than either the Nats or O's.

Ordonez 4. Magglio Ordonez

Looking past how much Ordonez was overpaid the last few seasons, you see an outfielder still capable of hitting with the stick. His agent, Scott Boras, is currently being unreasonable in salary demands but since when is that news? Of the outfielders left on the market, Mags is the best bet of all to produce in 2011.

How about: The Tigers. Detroit still needs a bat, and that outfield as comprised (Ryan Raburn-Austin Jackson-Brennan Boesch) does not look pretty. There's motivation on both sides to get a deal done.

Pavano 3. Carl Pavano

Pavano is a quality starter, there's no doubt about that. He can soak up innings and function as a solid No. 3 in any rotation, but he seems to be benefiting from a positive groundswell of support as there's not much differentiating him from Joe Blanton. He's understandably trying to capitalize on a market run amok, but Pavano's injury history and advanced age is working against him here.

How about: The Twins. Minnesota wants Pavano back and Pavano wants back in the Twin Cities. It's possible that Pavano, seeking a three-year, $30 million contract, could leave money on the table to do so.

Soriano 2. Rafael Soriano

Soriano is a lights out reliever but seems to be suffering from a curious lack of interest. Yes, his pedigree as a closer is one reason for that as teams are balking at four years and a high salary. One might think teams are learning their lesson when it comes to overpaying for relievers, but unfortunately it appears that teams are only getting smarter when it comes to paying closers, not relievers as evidenced by the ridiculous three-year deals handed out to relievers. But riddle me this: if someone like Matt Guerrier can get three years, how can Soriano not demand four?

How about: The Rangers. Texas is scrambling to find a pitcher to replace Cliff Lee. Pavano's a possibility, but how well can he play in that park? It may be better to go for the quality arm in Soriano and convert Neftali Feliz to a starter.

Beltre 1. Adrian Beltre

The best player left on the market, Beltre can pick it with the best of them and enjoyed a strong season at the plate. There's enough question marks about Beltre's offense that he's going to have to move significantly off his salary demands unless he phones Oakland and asks for the five-year, $65 million deal to be put back on the table.

How about: The Angels. It makes too much sense for the Angels to sign Beltre. They have a gaping hole at third and missed out on Crawford. Beltre, meanwhile, has seen his suitors dwindle as the market hasn't broke in his favor. This is a match for both sides that is too obvious. Then again, the Crawford-Angels match was obvious as well. As long as Los Angeles continues to negotiate as if there are no other teams involved, they will continue to miss out. The Halos could stand to be more aggressive.

-- Evan Brunell

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Posted on: December 3, 2010 12:50 am
Edited on: December 3, 2010 8:48 am
 

Agent: Thome wants to play in 2011

Jim Thome Jim Thome is interested in playing in 2011 and maybe 2012, his agent tells Joe Christensen of the Star Tribune .

"He has no intention of retiring," Pat Rooney said.

At the end of the season, the 40-year old Thome said he'd talk to his family about playing again, and now it appears he will.

Thome hit 25 home runs for the Twins in 2010 and moved to eighth on the all-time home run list with 589.

Rooney said he's talked to the Twins and "other teams are in the mix."

Thome signed a one-year deal with the Twins before last season that paid him $1.5 million and then another $200,000 in incentives.

"Right now, he feels great," Rooney said. "He's been working out, he's in great shape, he's ready to go."

The Twins seem to be the perfect fit for Thome, but perhaps he could go to Oakland, a team that lost out on Adam Dunn. Thome would appear to be best-suited to playing in the American League, where he can DH. He last played in the field in 2007, but that was for just one game. He hasn't played in the field more than he's DH'd since he was in the National League with Philadelphia in 2005.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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Posted on: November 26, 2010 5:51 pm
Edited on: November 29, 2010 10:50 am
 

Hot Stove League profile: Jim Thome

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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Posted on: November 24, 2010 1:50 pm
Edited on: November 24, 2010 1:50 pm
 

Guerrero wins DH award

Vladimir Guerrero
Tack on one more postseason honor for the Rangers, as Vladimir Guerrero was named recipient of the Edgar Martinez Award, given to the game's top designated hitter.

Signed by Texas as a free agent prior to the season, Guerrero put up a .300/.345/.496 line at the plate, with 115 RBI and 29 homers. David Ortiz and Jim Thome finished second and third in voting by baseball writers and public relations officials.

The American League champion Rangers have done well in awards season, with Josh Hamilton picking up the MVP and Neftali Feliz being named rookie of the year.

-- David Andriesen

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