After uncertainty early in the offseason, Jim Thome's mind is made up -- he'll play in 2011. Any team would love to have Thome's 2010 production on board. The likely Hall of Famer hit .283/.412/.627 and blasted 25 home runs for the Twins, moving into sole possession of eighth place on the all-time home run leaderboard.
However, Thome is unlikely to repeat that line, and few teams can afford his reported asking price. We learned last week that Thome is looking to make up for the meager $1.5MM contract he signed last year, possibly seeking as much as $8MM on a one-year deal.
There's also the fact that several teams already have their designated hitter spot filled and don't have much wiggle room with their roster to accommodate someone who's strictly a DH.
We know there's mutual interest with the Twins, but they picked up Jason Kubel's $5.25MM option and seem to be focusing on Carl Pavano for the time being. The Rays freed up some money in the Matt Garza trade, and have an opening at DH, though $8MM would likely still be too much for them. Batimore was recently linked to Vladimir Guerrero, even after signing Derrek Lee, so one would think Thome should appeal there as well. Same goes for the Angels, though they have Bobby Abreu and Juan Rivera.
Toronto committed $2.5MM to Edwin Encarnacion, but Thome could platoon with him at DH if the Jays plan on using Adam Lind at first base. If Detroit decides to use Victor Martinez as their primary catcher in 2011, Thome could join his fourth AL Central team as their DH as well.
There's no clear fit for Thome in terms of roster flexibility, team need, and available payroll, but eventually, someone will bring him on board and watch him close in on the elite 600 home run mark. Thome sits just 11 homers shy of that honor, and while his health is no guarantee, I'm not betting against him reaching that plateau when he can still hit homers like this one. Let's open it up to everyone: