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Cleveland Indians Rumors
Twins GM Terry Ryan was on-hand in New Britain tonight to see top prospect Byron Buxton‘s Double-A debut, but the evening took a scary turn for the five-tool center fielder. Buxton collided with right fielder Mike Kvasnicka and was unconscious on the field for roughly 10 minutes before being driven away in an ambulance and has been diagnosed with a concussion, Ryan said on the MiLBtv broadcast (Twitter links via MiLB.com’s Ash Marshall). It’s been a lost season for the consensus top prospect in baseball, who had already missed much of the season with wrist injuries. Ryan notes that the injury could have been much worse, and reports indicate that Kvasnicka, a Minnesota native whom the Twins acquired from the Astros in minor trade last season, was able to walk off the field (though he, too, was taken to the hospital as a precaution).
More links on what has been a scary night for the Twins organization…
- Recently acquired left-hander Tommy Milone tells Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press that he isn’t worried about the fact that the Twins may have stashed him in the minor leagues for a week in order to delay his free agency by a season. Milone will finish the year just shy of three full years of service time but said, “…as long as I’m here, I’m happy. You never know what’s going to happen four years from now.” As Berardino points out, Milone will still qualify for arbitration this offseason as a Super Two player, which lessens the sting a bit. Berardino notes that both Travis Wood and Ivan Nova had comparable ERAs and innings totals to Milone heading into arbitration, and the duo received first-time salaries of $3.9MM and $3.3MM, respectively.
- Berardino also summarizes the Twins’ trades to this point, noting that the club saved approximately $7.93MM by trading Kendrys Morales, Kevin Correia and Josh Willingham. He also has a third piece noting that Kurt Suzuki is on pace to earn all $500K of his playing time bonuses after already receiving a $25K bonus for making the All-Star team. That would boost his salary from $2.75MM to $3.275MM.
- Speaking of Willingham, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer runs down some reasons that the Indians neglected to claim the former Twin on waivers — a decision that resulted in the division-rival Royals landing him. The Indians, who had interest in Willingham as a free agent back in 2011-12 and recently lost David Murphy and Nick Swisher to the DL, didn’t want to pay the remaining $2MM on Willingham’s contract. They also were hesitant about his injury history and didn’t want to block playing time from younger players.
While many clubs are averse to making trades within their own division, the Twins and Royals showed little hesitation to do so last night when Minnesota traded Josh Willingham to Kansas City in exchange for right-hander Jason Adam. The Twins, in fact, seemingly have little qualms about dealing to division rivals. Within the past five years, they’ve traded Francisco Liriano to the White Sox, Delmon Young to the Tigers and acquired Carl Pavano from the Indians. They also flipped Jim Thome back to Cleveland and Jamey Carroll to the Royals for players to be named later/cash considerations. Of course, most of these are fairly minor trades, but the Pavano trade and the Liriano trade have had lasting effects on the organization (Minnesota acquired Eduardo Escobar in the Liriano deal).
Here’s more on the most recent intra-division trade and the rest of the AL Central…
- Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press spoke with Twins manager Ron Gardenhire and second baseman Brian Dozier about Willingham’s departure. Gardenhire said the move was tough for the clubhouse to swallow, while Dozier called Willingham his mentor and best friend. As Berardino points out, Willingham currently has the eighth-most games of any active player that has never made a postseason appearance. Berardino was also among the reporters on hand to speak with Willingham himself in the Twins’ clubhouse following the announcement of his trade (All video links).
- Zack Meisel of the Cleveland Plain Dealer began an excellent series by taking an in-depth examination of the Indians‘ analytics department and the contributions they make to the baseball operations department. Director of analytics Keith Woolner has been with the team since 2007 and has seen the Indians add two other analytics experts to his side based on the value they felt Woolner added. “There’s a lot of conversations out there, most of which never amount to anything,” Woolner said, “but you don’t know which ones are going to come to fruition, so you spend a lot of time evaluating a bunch of possibilities … so that when that one comes along, you have the information in place so that [GM Chris Antonetti] can make the best decision.”
- Justin Verlander tells Chris Iott of MLive.com that he had the “worst” stuff of his career in Monday night’s disastrous one-inning start. Verlander, who will undergo an MRI on his shoulder, said he’s nervous to learn the results, but his shoulder has been bothering him for a while of late. In a second piece, Iott looks at the sudden dearth of pitching for the Tigers, with Verlander ailing and Anibal Sanchez and Joakim Soria hitting the DL. Iott points out that Detroit, which already has two rookies in its rotation for the time being, will have a pair of double-headers later this month, which could cause them to dip even deeper into a shallow pool of talent. While Iott doesn’t write this, it’d be surprising to me if GM Dave Dombrowski wasn’t actively looking to acquire further bullpen and/or rotation depth.
The Indians have been active in locking up top young players where possible, with Jason Kipnis, Michael Brantley, and Yan Gomes all receiving lengthy guarantees this spring in exchange for cost savings to the club. But the organization has been much stingier with promising dollars to pitchers. Most recently, the team declined to act on the seemingly reasonable demands of Justin Masterson over the past offseason (before ultimately dealing him away this summer). According to MLBTR’s Extension Tracker, the last time Cleveland promised future money to a big league hurler, Roberto Hernandez was still known as Fausto Carmona. Indeed, he was the last arm to receive an extension from the Indians, way back in April of 2008.
That track record suggests that, as aggressive as the Indians have been in making investments in position players, the club has been wary of doing so with inherently injury-prone pitchers. But whatever risk the team builds into its internal models, at some point it makes sense to pursue a deal. That is especially true when unique bargaining leverage might be had, as the player might be more inclined to take a relatively modest guarantee rather than rolling the dice on his own health.
The reason for that lengthy introduction? The team’s current ace, Corey Kluber. Where does the righty stand on the year? 2.46 ERA over 171 2/3 innings. 9.8 K/9 against 1.9 BB/9, 49.7% groundball rate. 2.43 FIP, 2.69 xFIP, 2.70 SIERA. 5.2 fWAR, 5.2 rWAR. 28 years old. Expected service time at end of 2014 season: 2.074, good for a first run at arbitration in 2016.
Put simply, these are the kinds of circumstances where an extension could make sense for both sides. Cleveland will no doubt be content letting Kluber go out and prove his worth year-to-year, comforted by the fact that he is controlled through his age-32 season. But arbitration can get expensive, and cost limits (as well as cost certainty) might be attractive. The club’s future commitments drop off after 2016, when the Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn deals are up, leaving plenty of space to add some guaranteed dollars. (As things stand, Cleveland has promised just $18.742MM of salary for 2017.)
Meanwhile, for Kluber, a substantial future guarantee would seem to represent a major attraction. As good as he’s been, he had thrown just over 200 MLB innings coming into the season. His strikeout and walk rates are each better now than they ever were over a full minor league season. As a fourth-rounder back in 2007, he was not a bonus baby. And he is still more than a full season away from being paid a fraction of his actual value through arbitration — let alone reaching the open market. And even then, his advanced age would be a major factor. (I looked at the situation of James Shields a few months back, concluding that he would struggle to reach five years at a $20MM AAV in free agency when he hits the market in advance of his age-33 season.) In many respects, Kluber’s situation is not unlike that of the late-blooming Josh Donaldson, with the major difference that Kluber’s earning capacity depends upon the health of a right arm that is subject to immense strain on a daily basis.
What kind of deal might make sense for team and player? It is difficult to find a direct comparable, given Kluber’s rather unique, suddenly-emergent excellence. Kluber’s value is undeniable: he landed at 42nd on Dave Cameron’s list of the game’s most valuable players. But even apart from his poor bargaining position, his age is a major limiting factor on his ability to command big dollars well into the future.
The most recent extension for a 2+ service time starting pitcher was given to Chris Sale of the White Sox before the 2013 season. Sale received a five-year, $32.5MM deal with two option years — the latest example of an oft-copied extension model. (Somewhat notably, Kluber is represented by Jet Sports Management, according to Baseball-Reference, the agency that negotiated Sale’s contract as well as the recent Charlie Morton extension.) More recently, Julio Teheran was able to command $32.4MM over six years from the Braves, while giving up one option year, despite being a year behind on service time.
Those deals guaranteed at least one free agent year, and Cleveland may not be interested in promising any cash for Kluber’s age-33 season. Might the Indians look to promise four years while obtaining two or even three options at a similar guarantee to those contracts? Could the team look to shave something off of the dollars in those packages, possibly in return for reduced future control? Presumably, the key motivation for the team would not be to extend control, but rather to achieve significant cost savings. There are plenty of possibilities, and creative strategies abound to create a fit.
As usual, a motivated club would be the key to striking a deal. Cleveland is in an enviable position with respect to Kluber, who is producing like an in-prime ace (with the peripherals to match) but doing so for a pittance. That situation also brings the temptation of reaching an even better bargain. And surely Kluber’s camp would have to listen hard to any possibilities of signing up for a life-setting payday that might otherwise require plenty more hard work and good luck to achieve. Needless to say, it would be an intriguing storyline to track if either side looks to kick-start offseason negotiations.
Here are today’s minor moves from around the league…
- The Brewers have outrighted infielder Irving Falu, according to MLB.com’s transactions page. They claimed him last month from the Padres, who had previously claimed him from Milwaukee, so that the Brewers finally got him through to the minors must represent a small victory. The 31-year-old has hit .289/.342/.333 in 230 plate appearances for Triple-A Nashville this season.
- The Blue Jays have announced that they’ve selected the contract of lefty Brad Mills and optioned infielder Ryan Goins to Triple-A Buffalo. The Jays outrighted Mills in late July. He’s posted a 1.81 ERA with 9.0 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9 at Triple-A this season.
- The Mets have released outfielder Bobby Abreu, according to MiLB.com. The 40-year-old was designated for assignment last week after hitting .238/.331/.336 in 142 plate appearances in his first big-league action since 2012.
- The Cubs have outrighted outfielder Ryan Kalish to Triple-A Iowa, per the team’s transactions page. The 26-year-old was designated for assignment Friday after posting a slash of .242/.303/.330 in 100 plate appearances.
- The Indians have released right-hander Frank Herrmann from their Triple-A affiliate, tweets MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian. The 30-year-old, the longest-tenured player in the Cleveland organization, has struggled in 28 relief outings for Columbus to the tune of a 6.37 ERA, 9.1 K/9, and 5.8 BB/9 in 29 2/3 innings. Herrmann hasn’t pitched in a MLB contest since 2012 when he recorded a 2.33 ERA, 6.5 K/9, and 1.9 BB/9 over 19 1/3 innings (15 games) for the Indians.
- The White Sox have released right-hander Shawn Hill from Triple-A Charlotte, according to the International League transactions page. The veteran 33-year-old pitched to a 4.81 ERA with 4.2 K/9 and 1.4 BB/9 in 58 innings for the Knights after being acquired in a minor trade with the Blue Jays back in June. Hill last saw the bigs in 2012 with Toronto, and he has a lifetime 4.69 ERA with 5.6 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 in 242 Major League innings.
- Jason Pridie has accepted his outright assignment by the Rockies to Triple-A, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. The 30-year-old outfielder, who was designated for assignment Wednesday, had the option to become a free agent since he had been outrighted previously, but chose to remain at Colorado Springs where he has hit .275/.341/.426 in 378 plate appearances.
- Cotillo also tweets Andy Marte has accepted his outright assignment with the Diamondbacks rather than electing free agency. Marte, who batted .332/.385/.513 at Triple-A this season, will return to Reno in pursuit of the Pacific Coast League batting title, Cotillo adds. Marte was DFA’ed last week and sent outright to Reno last night, but, like Pridie, had been outrighted in the past and had the option to elect free agency.
- With the Dodgers and Phillies designating Colt Hynes and Sean O’Sullivan, respectively, for assignment today, a total of six players are now in DFA limbo. As can be seen in MLBTR’s DFA Tracker, in addition to Hynes and O’Sullivan, the following players have yet to have their DFA situation resolved: Chris Young (Mets), Ernesto Frieri (Pirates), Nate Schierholtz (Cubs) and Chone Figgins (Dodgers).
Edward Creech and Charlie Wilmoth contributed to this post.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Andy Marte | Arizona Diamondbacks | Bobby Abreu | Brad Mills | Chicago Cubs | Chicago White Sox | Cleveland Indians | Colorado Rockies | Frank Herrmann | Irving Falu | Jason Pridie | Milwaukee Brewers | New York Mets | Ryan Kalish | Shawn Hill | Toronto Blue Jays | Transactions
All signs point to the Twins promoting Trevor May to make Saturday’s start against the A’s, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN. The 24-year-old was acquired from the Phillies in 2012′s Ben Revere trade, and he’s seen his command steadily improve since joining the Twins organization. May’s ERA has dropped accordingly, and he’s currently sporting a 2.93 mark through 95 1/3 innings at Triple-A this season. With Vance Worley now in Pittsburgh, May is the lone piece remaining from that deal. Having averaged 10.5 K/9 in his minor league career, May could prove to be a valuable addition for a Twins team that’ has long been starved for power arms.
Here’s more on the Twins and the AL Central…
- Recently extended catcher Kurt Suzuki influenced the Twins‘ decision to acquire Tommy Milone from the A’s, reports John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter link). Suzuki, who has caught Milone numerous times as a former member of the A’s, made pitch to manager Ron Gardenhire, pitching coach Rick Anderson and bench coach Terry Steinbach — all of which were presumably relayed to the front office.
- Following today’s trade of Vinnie Pestano to the Angels, Indians GM Chris Antonetti offered the following statement to MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian (Twitter link): “Vinnie was a very valuable member of the organization who made some great contributions to our bullpen throughout his time with us. As we’ve had [Major League] bullpen opportunities over the course of the last month, we’ve promoted other pitchers from [Triple-A] Columbus, so we thought it made sense to give Vinnie a fresh start with the Angels. In return, we acquired a young pitcher who we think has a chance to help our Major League team in the next few years.” For his part, Pestano is excited about the fresh start, particularly due to the fact that he is a SoCal native. In a classy series of thank you tweets to the Indians organization, Pestano, who was born in Newport Beach, noted that he couldn’t imagine a better destination for a trade.
- MLB.com’s Scott Merkin writes that Avisail Garcia‘s aggressive approach to his rehab from a shoulder injury has impressed the White Sox. Garcia’s injury was thought to be season-ending back in April, but an August return now looks possible. Merkin notes that the move could create an interesting roster decision, though GM Rick Hahn has noted that he will pursue August trades, so a roster spot could be created that way.
6:43pm: Angels GM Jerry Dipoto tells Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register that Pestano was acquired after the Angels claimed him on waivers (Twitter link).
5:05pm: The Angels have added yet another reliever to their ranks by acquiring right-hander Vinnie Pestano from the Indians in exchange for minor league righty Michael Clevinger. Both teams have announced the trade.
The 29-year-old Pestano emerged as a lights-out setup man for the Indians in 2011-12, posting a combined 2.45 ERA with 10.6 K/9, 3.3 BB/9 and a 40 percent ground-ball rate in 132 innings of work. Pestano’s excellent work was worth 4.4 rWAR and 2.5 fWAR in that time, suggesting that he was one of the game’s more valuable relief options.
Pestano fell on hard times a bit in 2013, however, as his BB/9 rate climbed north of 5.0, and his ERA spiked to 4.08. Things between him and the Indians organization appeared to be tense the following offseason, when Pestano lost an arbitration hearing after Cleveland used comments that Pestano himself made to the press against him in a trial. Pestano had told Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, “I’ve been battling all year. As soon as I think I’ve got something figured out, I go out there and the results are the same. It’s getting really frustrating. I’m still the same pitcher in my head, I’m just not throwing the same way I used to.”
Quotes like that one were fired back at Pestano in the arb hearing, which the reliever told MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian that he didn’t appreciate: “That was the only thing that I didn’t care for. I definitely think it’ll affect how I see things going forward. I don’t really know if I can be as honest and up-front anymore. I’ve got three more years of arbitration left. I don’t know what they’ll pick to use against me next year or two years from now.”
Pestano has once again been excellent in the minors this season, posting a 1.78 ERA with a strong 37-to-12 K/BB ratio in 30 1/3 innings for Triple-A Columbus. He joins a growing list of relievers acquired by Halos GM Jerry Dipoto this season, as Dipoto has also brought in Jason Grilli, Joe Thatcher and Huston Street. Because Pestano was on the Indians’ 40-man roster, he would either have had to clear waivers or have been claimed by the Angels in order to facilitate a trade. The Angels will be able to control Pestano, who is earning $975K this year, through at least the 2017 season. For the time being, he’ll head to Triple-A Salt Lake.
As for the Indians, they’ll receive Clevinger — a 23-year-old righty selected by the Angels in the fourth round of the 2011 draft. Clevinger tore through Class A this season, notching a 1.88 ERA in five starts before being promoted to Class-A Advanced. He’s struggled at that level, however, posting a 5.37 ERA with 9.4 K/9 and 4.4 BB/9 in 55 1/3 innings of work. Clevinger ranked 17th among Halos prospects entering the 2014 season, according to Baseball America, and MLB.com had him 10th among Angels farmhands on its midseason Top 20 list (though it should be noted that the Angels’ farm system is poorly regarded).
Clevinger underwent Tommy John surgery in 2012, at a time when it looked as if he could be emerging as Anaheim’s top pitching prospect, Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com note in their free report. BA notes that he features a 91-93 mph fastball that he can cut well, in addition to three offerings — a changeup, slider and curveball — that could become average offerings. Effort in his delivery leads some scouts to project him as a reliever, though BA notes that the Angels wanted to give him as long a look in the rotation as possible due to a lack of organizational depth.
Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register first reported the trade (Twitter link).
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The Indians announced that they have released outfielder Nyjer Morgan. The 34-year-old has been on the shelf for nearly three months with a sprained PCL in his right knee. Manager Terry Francona told reporters, including MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian (Twitter link), that it was a mutual decision for the two sides to cut the cord.
Morgan appeared in 15 games for the Indians earlier this season, hitting a healthy .341/.429/.439 with a homer and three stolen bases in 52 plate appearances. That marked his first big league action since 2012, as he spent the 2013 campaign playing overseas with the Yokohama Bay Stars of Nippon Professional Baseball in Japan, where he slashed .294/.361/.434 in 108 games.
For his career, the sometimes controversial Morgan — also known as “Tony Plush” — is a .282/.343/.366 hitter in 2206 plate appearances between the Pirates, Nationals, Brewers and Indians. Cleveland has seen its center field depth take multiple hits this season, with Morgan and Michael Bourn both having spent significant time on the disabled list.
Here are the latest minor league transactions, with the newest moves at the top of the post…
- The Rockies have outrighted Pedro Hernandez to Triple-A, according to the MLB transactions page. The 25-year-old lefty made one start for Colorado before he was designated. As he has previously been outrighted, Hernandez will have the right to elect free agency.
- Reliever Jose De Paula has re-signed with the Giants on a minor league deal, per the MLB transactions page. The club had designated and then released him just days ago.
- The Nationals have released righty Josh Roenicke, according to the International League transactions page. Roenicke had spent at least some time in the big leagues for each of the prior six seasons, and logged 150 2/3 between 2012-13. But moving to the starting rotation for the first time as a professional has not resulted in high-level production at Triple-A this year; Roenicke has struggled to a 5.45 ERA through 79 1/3 frames (15 starts) with 4.2 K/9 against 3.5 BB/9.
- Ryan Feierabend of the Rangers has accepted an outright assignment rather than electing free agency, tweets Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The left-hander made his way back to the bigs for the first time since 2008 with a Texas club that has cycled through more than its fair share of arms this year.
- The Royals outrighted Brett Hayes to Triple-A after the catcher cleared waivers, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports (Twitter link). As the backup behind workhorse starter Salvador Perez, Hayes hasn’t seen much action this year, appearing in 27 games and posting a .362 OPS over only 53 PA.
- The Diamondbacks signed right-hander Graham Godfrey, Baseball America’s Matt Eddy reports. Godfrey posted a 5.09 ERA and 23 strikeouts in 46 innings with the A’s in 2011-12 and he spent last season pitching for the Red Sox and Pirates’ Triple-A affiliates.
- The Diamondbacks released first baseman Wagner Mateo earlier this week, according to the Pioneer League’s transactions page. Mateo originally signed a contract as a 16-year-old with the Cardinals worth a $3.1MM bonus in 2009 but St. Louis voided that deal after Mateo’s physical revealed apparent vision problems. Mateo signed a $512K contract with the D’Backs a year later and hit .230/.312/.349 over 802 pro plate appearances, never getting above the High-A ball level. He also posted an 8.87 ERA over 22 1/3 relief innings over the last two seasons.
- The Reds released right-hander Adam Russell last week, as announced via Twitter by their Triple-A Louisville affiliate. Russell posted a 3.95 ERA, 7.0 K/9 and 1.46 K/BB rate over 86 2/3 relief innings with the White Sox, Padres and Rays from 2008-11, and he’s since toiled in the minors with four other organizations. He had a 4.33 ERA, 8.7 K/9 and 1.79 K/BB in 35 1/3 IP this season with Louisville.
- Zach McAllister and Evan Scribner were both respectively optioned to Triple-A by the Indians and Athletics over the weekend. The two righties were both on optional assignment waivers after being designated off their team’s 25-man rosters (but not the 40-man rosters) on Friday, though they were procedural moves rather than traditional DFAs, and neither player was in any danger of being claimed by another club.
- To monitor players who have been properly designated for assignment, check out MLBTR’s DFA Tracker, as a whopping 10 players currently reside in “DFA limbo.”
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Adam Russell | Arizona Diamondbacks | Brett Hayes | Cincinnati Reds | Cleveland Indians | Colorado Rockies | Graham Godfrey | Jose De Paula | Josh Roenicke | Kansas City Royals | Oakland Athletics | Pedro Hernandez | San Francisco Giants | Texas Rangers | Transactions | Wagner Mateo | Washington Nationals | Zach McAllister
Here’s the latest from the desert…
- The Diamondbacks’ deadline trades are analyzed by several rival talent evaluators, who share their thoughts with Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. Some scouts feel Gerardo Parra is on the decline and could’ve been a non-tender candidate since he’s on pace to earn between $6-7MM in arbitration this winter, so “getting even a decent piece for Parra is a great move,” said one American League source. Parra was dealt to the Brewers on Thursday.
- Catching prospect Peter O’Brien has power but his defense and ability to play in the NL drew mixed reviews from scouts, though the biggest benefit of his acquisition was that the Yankees took the roughly $25MM remaining on Martin Prado‘s contract off Arizona’s books. Losing Prado, of course, removes the biggest piece from the Justin Upton trade, and Piecoro notes that the D’Backs have now traded several stars (including Upton, Prado and Parra, among others) when their value has been low, rather than selling high.
- One of those low-return deals could be the three-team trade between the D’Backs, Reds and Indians from December 2012, as Zack Meisel of the Cleveland Plain Dealer feels the Tribe look like the winners of that trade 20 months later. Arizona gave up a highly-regarded pitching prospect in Trevor Bauer (due to reported attitude issues with team management) and relievers Bryan Shaw and Matt Albers in the trade, and now Bauer seems to be turning the corner as a rotation staple while Shaw has been a valuable setup man for Cleveland. The Snakes, meanwhile, got back Tony Sipp, Lars Anderson and Didi Gregorius in the deal; they’ll regret this one if Bauer becomes an ace, though Gregorius seems like a promising enough young shortstop that I wouldn’t say Arizona made off poorly in the trade.
- Archie Bradley is pitching well at Double-A Mobile and, perhaps more importantly, is healthy after an injury scare in April, Jack Magruder writes for Baseball America. Bradley was shut down for a while to ensure that his right elbow was fit, and he has a 3.97 ERA, 7.4 K/9 and a 1.47 K/BB rate in 34 innings for Mobile (his numbers somewhat inflated by one particularly poor start). Magruder speculates that Bradley might get a late-season promotion if the D’Backs move to a six-man rotation.
First baseman and five-time All-Star Jim Thome has officially retired after signing an honorary contract with the Indians today. Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer was the first to tweet the news. Thome, who will turn 44 next month, is a veteran of 22 seasons. The Indians unveiled a statue of Thome earlier today as part of the ceremonies.
Thome’s last major league stop was with the Orioles in 2012, where he posted a .257/.348/.396 line over 115 plate appearances. He was said to be looking for another opportunity this past offseason, and he’s also expressed interest in becoming a big league manager.
He’s best remembered for his 12 year stint with the Indians, where he contributed a career high 52 home runs in 2002. He also briefly returned for part of the 2011 season. The beloved first baseman blasted 337 out of 612 career home runs as an Indian. His home run total ranks first in franchise history – he’s 95 home runs ahead of second place basher Albert Belle. Thome was worth 45.7 fWAR during his time in Cleveland, despite generally negative fielding scores. Three of his All-Star appearances came with Cleveland. The Indians went to the postseason six times during the Thome era.
Fans of Philadelphia also have fond memories of Thome. While he never carried the Phillies to the postseason, he ushered in an era of competitiveness and free agent spending that coincided with the opening of Citizen’s Bank Park. Overall, he hit 96 home runs in his first stint with the Phillies and later returned to park five more in 2012. The Phillies traded Thome to the White Sox after the 2005 season to make room for Rookie of the Year first base prospect Ryan Howard (Howard went on to win the MVP in 2006). At that point in Thome’s career, injuries were making it hard for him to play in the field every day.
With a career .276/.402/.554 line and 612 home runs to his name, Thome seemingly has a strong case for enshrinement in the Hall of Fame. The home run total ranks seventh all time. Fangraphs pegs his career Wins Above Replacement at 67.7 fWAR while Baseball-Reference has a slightly higher 72.9 rWAR. His reputation as one of the “good guys” of the steroid era may help his case, although he may also have to battle a dense ballot of candidates.
As previously mentioned, Thome was a five time All-Star, including three times with Cleveland, once as a Phillie, and one time with the White Sox. He never finished higher than fourth in the MVP voting (2003), but he garnered votes in eight seasons. He also won the Silver Slugger award in 1996. In addition to his six postseason appearances with the Indians, Thome visited October four more times – each with a different team. Unfortunately, he was never a part of a World Series Champion.
MLBTR wishes him well in his new career path and congratulates Thome on an excellent Major League career.