Thames signed a contract with the Yomiuri Giants of Nippon Professional Baseball in Japan on Tuesday, Yahoo! Japan reports. The 34-year-old struggled with the Nationals in 2020 with a .617 OPS in 41 games, and the team declined the mutual option after the season. Thames returned to MLB in 2017 after revitalizing his career in Korea, and he'll now be returning overseas for 2021.
Thames' club portion of his mutual contract option was declined by the Nationals on Wednesday, Jesse Dougherty of The Washington Post reports. Thames could still elect to remain with the club on a $4 million deal for a second season, but he'll be owed $1 million if he declines his player option. The 33-year-old slashed .203/.300/.317 with three home runs and 12 RBI while appearing in 41 games during the shortened 2020 season.
Thames isn't in the lineup for Game 1 of Saturday's doubleheader against the Mets. Thames' playing time has decreased significantly in recent games, and he'll take a seat once again for Saturday's matinee. Yadiel Hernandez will take over as the designated hitter.
Thames is not in Thursday's lineup against the Mets. Thames has started just one game since Sept. 20. Kurt Suzuki will start at designated hitter while batting third.
Thames isn't in Wednesday's lineup against the Phillies. Thames will retreat to the bench Wednesday for the fourth time in the last five games, even with right-hander Zach Eflin starting for Philadelphia. Asdrubal Cabrera will take over at first base.