Free Agent Stock Watch: Jim Thome

Jim Thome needs 15 more plate appearances to reach 350 for the season, which would unlock an $0.1MM incentive bonus within the one-year, $1.5MM deal he signed with Minnesota in the offseason.  Thome has already hit two such plate appearance clauses, boosting his season total up to $1.7MM — still a huge bargain for the Twins given Thome's team-leading 25 homers and .631 slugging percentage.

The future Hall-of-Famer said he might retire a champion if the Twins win the World Series, but in all likelihood, Thome will be back in 2011 to gun for the 600-homer club.  (Thome enters Thursday's action with 589 career long balls.)  With so many teams looking for offense this winter, here's what interested clubs should be considering when looking at Thome.

The Pros

  • Thome has a whopping 1.155 OPS against right-handed pitching.
  • Though he'll easily command more than he did in 2010, Thome is still a bargain compared to pricier DH options on the market like Adam Dunn, David Ortiz or Manny Ramirez.
  • He just missed out on Type B free agent status, so a team can sign Thome without draft pick compensation.
  • Thome is universally regarded as one of the most well-liked and well-respected players in the game.  This intangible factor shouldn't be ignored when a general manager is deciding whom to bring into a clubhouse, especially in the case of a young team looking for a veteran presence.

The Cons

  • Thome hasn't been anything but a DH or a pinch-hitter for the last three seasons.  His lack of a defensive position will limit his market to American League teams.
  • The 40-year-old Thome has battled nagging thigh and back injuries this season and can't be counted on to play every day.
  • Along those same lines, Thome's slash line against lefties this season (in 91 PA) is .238/.297/.476.  Thome will need to be paired with a right-handed hitting DH who can pick up the slack against southpaws.

The Verdict

It seems another one-year contract is in the cards for Thome, who probably wouldn't have it any other way given that he's toying with retirement.  Despite the fact that he's only suited for a platoon DH role, Thome will probably be able to get a deal worth as much as $5MM.  Such a total would still be a steal if Thome can replicate his 2010 campaign.

Which AL teams could take an interest in Thome?  Minnesota is the first choice; Thome has become a folk hero at Target Field due to his role in the Twins' AL Central title and the club already has interest in bringing him back.

Aside from the Twins, the Red Sox (if they don't pick up Ortiz's 2011 option), Tigers, Angels, Rays and White Sox could also give Thome a look.  Chicago pursuing Thome would be rather ironic, since it was the team's failure to pursue Thome last winter and subsequent lack of production from the DH role that was allegedly one of the factors in the Ozzie Guillen/Kenny Williams tension over the summer.  New York might also have an interest; if the Yankees stick to their plan of using the designated hitter spot to give Alex Rodriguez and Jorge Posada a break from playing the field, they could DH those two against lefties and sign Thome to start against righties. 

Baltimore, Oakland, Seattle and (if Adam Lind moves to first base) Toronto are teams who are looking for offense and might have an opening at DH.  If Thome is still looking for his first World Series title, however, he's more likely to sign with a contender.


26 Responses to Free Agent Stock Watch: Jim Thome Leave a Reply

  1. The sox need to sign him, simple as that.

  2. basemonkey 5 years ago

    Wow. I knew he was up there but haven’t checked in a while. He is only 11 HRs away from 600! That’s very elite company. He’s the kind of bat from a generation who wants to play as long as possible into the post-steroids era to make a stronger argument about his production being clean and legitimate.

    The Orioles could use a veteran bat like him. The only problem is that they’ve already got a left-handed DH type in Luke Scott. You can’t have too much, but ideally they may prefer a righty.

  3. canadianball 5 years ago

    Thome with all the other Jays sluggers would make a very exciting team to watch… add a good third baseman and really whats missing from them contending??

    • Dave_Gershman 5 years ago

      A division where they wont be screwed.

      • canadianball 5 years ago

        fine… and a catcher and closer but whose counting

        • Dave_Gershman 5 years ago

          No seriously, you were absolutley right and I agree…But the division
          killed them this season. If they were in any other divisions they’d have 92+
          wins.

          • TwinsVet 5 years ago

            I believe they actually had the 2nd best intra-division record of anyone in the AL East. That didn’t kill them, so much as 83 wins still leaving them 10+ GB.

          • Dave_Gershman 5 years ago

            Right. Well if they were in any other division, they might have 90-95 wins. I still think that they should he in the central, but they just have to keep doing what they are doing, play well, win those divisonal games as you said, and just do the best they can.

        • Dave_Gershman 5 years ago

          No seriously, you were absolutley right and I agree…But the division
          killed them this season. If they were in any other divisions they’d have 92+
          wins.

  4. Jays should get him. Compensation plus place Lind at 1st, him at DH.

  5. I’d love to watch him in a Rays uniform, but my money would be on him returning to the Twins.

  6. stovin 5 years ago

    What the O’s should do is have Scott play 1B next year. Sign Thome and put him at DH. Trade Egan, Tillman and Reimold for Mark Reynolds. Reynolds plays 3B when the team is VSing a righty and when vsing a south paw he bats DH and Bell gets the start at 3B and Thome sits. Line Up VS Lefty: 1: Roberts 2B 2: Markakis RF 3: Reynolds DH 4: Scott 1B
    5: Jones CF 6: Wieters C 7: Pie LF 8: Bell 3B 9: Izturis SS Line Up VS Righty

    • Tko11 5 years ago

      I doubt thome would go to the Orioles and you really want reynolds and his .200 average?

    • why trade Reimold? he’s young and cheap.

    • TwinsVet 5 years ago

      Thome wants 3 things: 1) A chance to win, 2) a chance to get AB’s, 3) a chance to rest regularly.

      The Orioles can only provide 1, maybe 2 of those.

  7. jwsox 5 years ago

    im still surprised the yankees didnt go after him last year…the type of DH they were looking for last season is thome to a T…huge OBP, huge SLG and aton of homers…we all saw how well that whole nick johnson thing worked…and thome actually hits unlike johnson….thome in the yakees line up with arod, tex, cano, granderson, swish, jorge…it would be nuts…..even if thome batted like 6th it would be scary in the park, he would easily get to the 600 hr club like in the first week.

  8. jwsox 5 years ago

    im still surprised the yankees didnt go after him last year…the type of DH they were looking for last season is thome to a T…huge OBP, huge SLG and aton of homers…we all saw how well that whole nick johnson thing worked…and thome actually hits unlike johnson….thome in the yakees line up with arod, tex, cano, granderson, swish, jorge…it would be nuts…..even if thome batted like 6th it would be scary in the park, he would easily get to the 600 hr club like in the first week.

  9. astrostl 5 years ago

    I think “need” is a pretty strong word to use with regard to platooning Thome; he’s only got 94 PAs against lefties in 2010, and his wRC+ is still 111. I think it could make sense for wear and tear in addition to performance reasons, but many (most?) teams don’t have dedicated depth at DH.

  10. $2902172 5 years ago

    I think he’d be perfect as a Jay, batting 4th. Escobar/Bautista/Thome/Lind/Wells/Hill is an amazing offensive core and Thome would provide a little more balance with his walk rate, so J-Bau won’t be the only guy drawing walks.

  11. Thome to the Yankees would be a perfect fit. DH him against the righties and Arod/Posada as a DH against the lefties. Perfect. I bet Thome could literally spit over the short porch at right let alone hit a HR there.

  12. I think it would be funny to see him with his home town team Peoria Chiefs former professionals that would leave Rays skipper Joe Maddon first job as a manager was in Peoria or working under Joe Girardi Yankees Manager as kids we went and saw them on the field but I think that New York is an awfull big place for someone with mid western roots like Jim Thome or myself I vote Minesota or Rays

  13. I don’t think Thome would ever put on a Yankees uniform.

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