Frank Thomas Rumors
Expect another one of these today. There's lots of little stuff, but not much in the way of substantive rumors.
- The Mariners were one of four teams contacted by Frank Thomas's agent. The A's were obviously another. So who were the other two?
- With 24-year-old backstop Robinzon Diaz mashing in AAA, the Jays might look to spin off either Gregg Zaun or Rod Barajas come July.
- 39-year-old southpaw Mike Myers requested and was granted his unconditional release from the Dodgers.
- After DFAing him on Sunday, the Royals have placed Hideo Nomo on release waivers. If unclaimed by noon on Tuesday, he'll become a free agent.
- Curtis Granderson says his allergies are killing him. I can empathize. Fret not, Curtis. If you're like me, you'll be in the clear next week.
Posted by Joe Pawlikowski.
Here's today's linkage.
- Bobby Kielty's hand injury drastically reduces the chance of a Coco Crisp trade within the next month.
- Who needs a lefty reliever? The Nationals' Ray King would like to be traded rather than head to Triple A.
- Mike Sweeney was excited about signing with the Twins last winter, but the Craig Monroe trade ended that possibility. Susan Slusser doesn't expect the A's to keep both Frank Thomas and Sweeney for very long.
- Joe Sports Fan ranks the seven best long-term contracts. Any additions? How about Dan Haren at four years and $12.65MM?
TODAY: Thomas has signed with the A's, according to the AP. Can't help but like such a low-cost move, though it means Jack Cust can't be stashed at DH.
6:49pm: There are not quite 100% but legit-sounding stories bouncing around about the A's signing Thomas. One is from WWWT Radio in Washington D.C. via Baseball Digest Daily; another is a now-defunct post from Yahoo's Tim Brown via RotoWorld.
8:17am: When we last checked in on Frank Thomas, the A's admitted they'd have an internal discussion about him. Today, Buster Olney writes that the A's will have that talk within 48 hours. They may prefer Thomas to Mike Sweeney. Manager Bob Geren won't comment on the situation.
Meanwhile Hank Steinbrenner says the Yankees have "never even talked about" signing Thomas. He's not a good fit for their team. The Yanks still owe Jason Giambi more than $23MM this year.
On Monday, Bradford Doolittle suggested that Frank Thomas or Barry Bonds might make sense for the Royals if they move Billy Butler to first base. The Royals' .311 OBP is 13th in the AL; their .346 SLG is the league's worst. Based on Dayton Moore's offseason moves, he seems to be playing to win in '08.
Moore rained on the Thomas/Bonds parade yesterday, implying that he is not considering either player currently. Mike Piazza might work, if it's clubhouse concerns the Royals aim to avoid.
Just a couple of lingering posts in my browser this morning.
- It looks like Joe Crede is sticking by Scott Boras's side as he enters free agency after this season. I can't blame him. It's one thing for a superstar like A-Rod or an established veteran like Kenny Rogers to do what they want. But Crede certainly benefits from being repped by Boras.
- If Pirates GM Neal Huntington has plans to ditch Matt Morris, he's not tipping his hand. The 33-year-old righty has been downright horrible since coming over to Pittsburgh, a gaffe made by who else by Dave Littlefield.
- While Tim mentioned yesterday that Jon Daniels is leaning away from Frank Thomas, Manager Ron Washington is enticed. "I'll take him in a heartbeat. Once he reaches 100 at-bats, he really does start hacking."
Posted by Joe Pawlikowski.
Did you know that the Royals have yet to score more than six runs in a game this season? I didn't, either, before I came across Bradford Doolittle's piece in the Kansas City Star. While the team has seen some quality performances from the pitching staff, their offense is in a rut. Lucky for them, there are two guys waiting by the phone right now who could provide instant upgrades: Frank Thomas and Barry Bonds.
Thomas could definitely fit into the picture. Ross Gload is okay, but certainly not a lock as a regular. The only problem here is that if you replace Gload with Thomas, you have to move Billy Butler out to first base. Yeah, there are more disastrous spots for him out there -- I recall Baseball Prospectus's Kevin Goldstein telling a less than flattering story of Butler's outfield skills. He can't be much worse than Jason Giambi out there, so it's worth a shot.
The crazy thing is that Bonds could fit in, too. The only obstacle is Jose Guillen's contract. The newly-signed right fielder is hitting .173/.205/.307, while having the most at bats on the team. I know the season is young, but this can become a problem. It's not like Guillen was a superstar coming in. It's just that there's no way the Royals can rid themselves of him -- that is, even if they wanted to.
But if Dayton Moore slid Mark Teahen back to right and signed Bonds, he might be creating a decent situation. Bonds can't play left all the time, but when he can't, you can get Joey Gathright to play out there (with David DeJesus manning CF full-time). Bonds can DH to give Thomas days off. And Gload can fill in for Butler when needed.
No, it's not an ideal solution. You'd be bringing in one defensive liability in Bonds, and creating another one by signing Thomas. However, if the Royals think they can compete this year, they're going to need an offensive upgrade. Nabbing Frank Thomas seems like a logical move, then.
The Blue Jays are on the hook for the rest of Frank Thomas' salary this year, making him a fine bargain for a team looking for a DH. It seems that the signing team will not be liable for his 2009 vesting option. As an injury-prone DH with clubhouse concerns, Thomas has similarities to Barry Bonds. The Big Hurt will come more cheaply, offering less production but no steroid baggage. As far as suitors:
- Mariners GM Bill Bavasi will talk to his scouts about Thomas. Question for Mariners fans: does Thomas offer more at DH than Jeff Clement, who is raking at Triple A?
- Rangers GM Jon Daniels didn't rule Thomas out but seems to be leaning away from it. The Rangers have plenty of DHs on hand already.
- The A's will at least have an internal discussion about Thomas, but they aren't tipping their hand.
- Rays manager Joe Maddon was noncommital when asked about Thomas. They did just add Dan Johnson.
- Could the Mets follow suit and release Carlos Delgado?
11:10am: While I was writing the below, Frank Thomas was released. That was fast. I would expect the Jays to call up Adam Lind. They've lost a big chunk of run production, so they should be looking for a new DH. Barry Bonds? As for Thomas, I think there will be a lot of interest. My immediate thought is the Rays, which could come back to bite the Jays. Better suggestions?
9:48am: More drama coming out of the Blue Jays clubhouse as Frank Thomas has been benched indefinitely, sparking rumors of his potential release. Last night, the Big Hurt was keeping the bench warm in favor of Matt Stairs at DH. Even when Shannon Stewart was scratched in left field, Joe Inglett was slotted into left instead of moving Stairs there and plugging the slumping Thomas into the lineup. Reports Richard Griffin of the Toronto Sun, GM J.P. Ricciardi said this move (benching Thomas for Joe Inglett) was "just putting out what we think is our best lineup to score runs." That speaks volumes.
This doesn't seem to be a motivational tactic by Manager John Gibbons akin to Ozzie Guillen's annual declaration that Bobby Jenks isn't guaranteed the closer role. Instead Griffin reports that Thomas was told by Gibbons that this replacement was "indefinite, maybe forever." In other words, the Jays might be considering releasing him and saving the $10MM owed to Thomas next season; or they could be weathering his displeasure and keeping his PAs to a minimum since the $10MM in 2009 is a vesting option that he earns by recording 1,000 PAs in '07-'08 (he only needs 304 this year). No wonder Thomas is peeved.
Mike Rutsey of the Toronto Star reports,
If the Jays do decide to go without Thomas, to release him, they could bring up Adam Lind to play left field on an everyday basis -- he is better defensively than either Stairs or Stewart -- and have the veterans split the DH duties. At Syracuse, Lind, a left-handed hitter, is hitting .360 with three homers and 13 RBIs.
Adds Richard Griffin,
If the Jays wish it, his Toronto career, in fact, could be over. A revised DH combo of Stairs and either Rod Barajas or Marco Scutaro could be easier to slot into the batting order than was the slumping one-man roadblock that is the Hurt. After Scott Rolen returns from an injury rehab assignment in a couple of weeks, there will be nowhere logically for Thomas to hit.
Thomas started slowly through 60 AB last year too before putting together a .277-26-95 season. PECOTA projects a drop in average, but another 25-90 campaign. If healthy, I could see Thomas doing even better than those marks. Still, if they bench or release him it's to save themselves from having to give $10MM to a 41 year old Thomas. If they do release him, I would expect him to get signed elsewhere faster than you can say "Barry Bonds". At which point, I would also expect a fuming Thomas to go on a Hulk-like rampage.
By Nat Boyle
Keith Law, a favorite here at MLBTR and at home home, River Ave. Blues, has posted an article on 10 potential trade candidates off-season. It seems that if anything big does go down this off-season, it will be in the form of a trade, since the FA market is particularly weak. So who does Law have in mind?
The most surprising name on the list is the Blue Jays' Adam Lind. Law believes that with the next year's financial commitments to Frank Thomas, Lyle Overbay, and now Matt Stairs, there is no obvious spot for Lind, and he'll have to win a job in Spring Training -- which he could most certainly do. It seems a bit foolish to trade a 24-year-old because of a couple of short-term financial commitments, most notably in the case of Stairs, who will be making a paltry $1 million in 2009. J.P. Ricciardi has done stranger things, though.
Another strange name is Ben Broussard, who figures to at least have a shot at being non-tendered. Law notes his favorable platoon splits against righties and figures he can help a team fill out a position. But since the Mariners already have Richie Sexson and Jose Vidro under contract, and are looking to get Adam Jones some more playing time, there doesn't seem a logical spot for Broussard.
Law also brings up David DeJesus and Coco Crisp, often mentioned around these parts, as well as Andy LaRoche and, despite the trade of Jacques Jones, Matt Murton.
As a Yanks fan, I have to be at least a little curious at the inclusion of Cliff Lee. With Andy Pettitte's career at the most a year from ending, and with the further possibility that he's thrown his last pitch, the Yanks are going to need a lefty starter. Might as well inquire on Lee, as his not-so-stellar 2007 has significantly decreased his value.
Joe Pawlikowski is co-author of River Ave. Blues, a Yankees blog.
Jerry Crasnick has some good info for ESPN: the Blue Jays are "closing in on a deal" with designated hitter Frank Thomas. It seems that a two-year deal is in the works.
As Thomas's excellent comeback season wound down, it seemed apparent that he would leave the A's. If Gary Sheffield commands a two-year, $28MM extension, Thomas should be good for two years and at least $20MM.
The Blue Jays have a ton of needs, but plenty of free cash.