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Jim Thome Rumors
Jim Thome will eventually retire as one of the game’s most accomplished power hitters, but he doesn’t want to call it a career just yet. The 42-year-old free agent told Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports that he’s heading to Phoenix next week to continue his workouts. He’ll stay in shape to be sure he’s ready should an interested team call. However, after 22 seasons at the MLB level, Thome has been reluctant to accept a minor league deal.
“For me, what I’ve done in the game, I felt really strongly about that,” Thome told Rosenthal. “I still love the game. I want to keep playing. But I felt after 20-something years, that if I went back and played, I wanted to get an opportunity to make a club at the Major League level. To me, that was important. I feel I’m still a Major League player. I’m in great shape.”
Thome, an SFX client, doesn’t offer defensive value at this stage in his career; he’s strictly a designated hitter and pinch hitter. He played for the Phillies and Orioles in 2012, posting a .252/.344/.442 batting line with eight home runs in 186 plate appearances.
The Yankees and Orioles don’t appear to be fits for Thome based on recent reports. The Indians once had interest, but have since added a similar player in Jason Giambi. At this stage, no team stands out as an obvious candidate to offer Thome a guaranteed roster spot.
Here's the latest from around the majors…
- The Indians are no longer pursuing Jim Thome, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal (Twitter link) reports, as the team doesn't want to devote a roster spot to a full-time DH. Thome is "healthy, working out [and] open to other clubs," Rosenthal notes. Thome said in December that he was open to continuing his career in 2013.
- Scott Boras plans to open a sports fitness center for his clients in south Florida next year, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports, in part to prevent players from getting associated with doctors and clinics associated with PEDs. Boras says his clinic will “bring about a certain level of assurance that the players we represent are certainly given the best information and best professional training…We feel we can best avoid all of the outside resources that are attacking these young men and providing them with false information and less than licensed professional medical assistance.”
- The Angels twice chose to focus on their hitters ahead of their pitching rotation this winter, decisions that MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez feels will define their season, for better or worse.
- Angel Villalona will join the Giants' Spring Training camp after obtaining a work visa to come to the United States, Baseball America's Ben Badler reports. Villalona couldn't get a visa last year and was on MLB's restricted list in 2010-11 due to complications from being charged with murder in his native Dominican Republic in 2009, charges that were eventually dropped.
- While Scott Rolen can't contribute on the field as he could in his prime, his veteran leadership can still be a big boost to a contender, MLB.com's Mike Bauman writes. Rolen has toyed with retirement this winter but may be negotiating a return to the Reds.
The Indians are looking to add a hitter and could spend modestly to supplement their offense, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. The team is considering a reunion with several former Indians, including Jim Thome and Travis Hafner, Heyman reports. Though there’s been “a hint of buzz” about a reunion with Manny Ramirez, he’s not a consideration.
The Indians don't have an obvious internal DH option at this point, assuming Mark Reynolds plays first base. GM Chris Antonetti recently acknowledged that Hafner remains an option in Cleveland. Thome, 42, played for the Phillies and Orioles in 2012. He has said he's not retired and would consider playing because he still feels good physically.
Heyman identified former Indians such as Johnny Damon, Casey Kotchman and Grady Sizemore as other potential options for Antonetti. Free agents Aubrey Huff, Luke Scott, Carlos Lee, Jason Giambi and Juan Rivera are also available. Indians designated hitters ranked 11th in the American League with a .226/.317/.385 batting line in 2012.
Mark Hale of the New York Post has a number of updates related to New York’s two teams. Here’s the latest (all links go to Twitter)…
- The Mets remain interested in Scott Hairston, Hale reports. GM Sandy Alderson has checked in on a number of outfielders, including Jason Kubel and Justin Upton of the Diamondbacks.
- Agent Dave Pepe, who represents free agent right-hander Carl Pavano, said there’s some mutual interest between the Mets and his client. "We clearly have an interest and I think they do too,” Pepe told Hale. “We’ll see where it goes.” The agent added that Pavano’s workouts are going well and that he’s drawing interest from multiple teams.
- The agent for Scott Podsednik said the Mets haven’t shown any interest in the free agent outfielder, Hale reports.
- Agent John Boggs said the Yankees and Mets are among five teams to express interest in free agent outfielder Ben Francisco. Playing time will figure into Francisco’s decision, according to Boggs. The right-handed hitting Francisco has a career line of .252/.329/.414 against left-handed pitching.
- The Yankees don’t have interest in Jim Thome, Hale reports.
In an appearance on WEEI radio's Red Sox Hot Stove show (partial transcript provided by WEEI.com's Alex Speier), Dustin Pedroia said he hadn't heard anything from his agents about any talks with the Red Sox about a possible contract extension. It was reported in November that Boston was interested in extending its second baseman, and Pedroia is eager to pursue such negotiations should they arise. "Obviously, I want to be a Red Sox my whole career and play in that city, turn this whole thing around to get back to where we were my first couple years there," Pedroia said.
Here's the latest from the AL East…
- The Red Sox are not only disinclined to give Adam LaRoche a three-year contract, but the club also doesn't want to surrender a draft pick to sign the free agent first baseman, tweets Peter Gammons. Boston has interest in LaRoche as a backup option if Mike Napoli can't be signed, and signing LaRoche would cost the Sox their second-round draft pick since LaRoche turned down a qualifying offer from the Nationals.
- Speaking of that Red Sox draft pick, WEEI.com's Rob Bradford looks at why Boston is hesitant to give up that selection.
- The Orioles "kicked the tires" on trading for Mariners first baseman Justin Smoak in each of the last two offseasons and also rated Smoak highly in his draft year, reports Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. Connolly sees Smoak as a good trade target for the O's and wonders if a Smoak-for-Brian Matusz deal would work for both teams. We heard earlier this week that the Orioles continued to have interest in Smoak, who could be expendable now that Seattle has Kendrys Morales in the fold.
- Jim Thome is "not an ideal fit" to return to the Orioles, writes MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli, as manager Buck Showalter would prefer to rotate his regulars through the DH spot. Earlier this month, Thome said he is open to returning in 2013 for his 23rd Major League season.
- The Rays' strong recent track record of signing veteran bullpen arms augers well for the Roberto Hernandez signing, writes MLB.com's Bill Chastain. Hernandez signed a one-year, $3.25MM deal with the Rays earlier this month.
Jim Thome is MLB's active leader in walks (1,747) and strikeouts (2,548) and is second in homers (612), and he hopes to pad those totals further in 2013. The slugger told Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com that he is not retired and is open to playing next season.
"I’m not retired," said Thome. "If someone wants me to play, I’d consider it for sure. I feel good. If I didn’t feel good, I wouldn’t even consider it. But I feel good. I’d like to play."
Thome, 42, acknowledged that he fits best as a DH, but he is willing to consider a role with an NL team if the opportunity presents itself. "I still feel like I can give a team a veteran presence and get a big hit off the bench," he added.
Just last week we heard that Phillies manager Charlie Manuel and Orioles GM Dan Duquette were unsure if Thome would continue playing. The former Indians first baseman split last season between Philadelphia and Baltimore, hitting .252/.344/.442 with eight homers in 186 plate appearances while also missing time with back problems. Thome started four games at first base in 2012, his most action in the field since 2005.
MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith and Jason Martinez of MLB Depth Charts discussed suitors for Zack Greinke and the developing infield market on the latest Rosters and Rumblings podcast. Click here to listen in. Read on for some free agent notes…
- Agent Scott Boras seemingly took shots at Boston's Shane Victorino and Mike Napoli signings in his explanation of closer Rafael Soriano's demands, telling reporters including Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times, "We're seeing mid-level players make $13 million a year. The value of a closer, you would have to argue, has historically been more valuable than what you see in mid-level players." Apparently in reference to Tigers' plan to use Bruce Rondon, Boras said, "You can count on one hand the number of closers under the age of 23 that have ever gone to the big leagues and put together 30 saves, let alone pitch in the postseason and be effective." It has actually only happened twice, with Neftali Feliz in 2010 and Huston Street in 2006. If we include age-23 seasons, seven more stoppers join the list and Feliz appears again.
- Jim Thome remains undecided on whether to play in 2013, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel told MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince.
- 11 teams have expressed interest in free agent lefty John Lannan for potential Major League jobs, hears Amanda Comak of the Washington Times. The 28-year-old has drawn interest from the Mets, Twins, and Pirates, based on previous reports.
The Orioles have shown interest in Brett Myers, who plans to pitch as a starter in 2013, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter). The Twins and Royals are among the other American League teams in on the right-hander. Here's more on the O's..
- General manager Dan Duquette is confident that the team won't need to trade for an outfielder given the amount of options available via free agency, Morosi writes. The team would like to add an outfielder so that Chris Davis could move back to first base or DH.
- Duquette spoke with reporters at the meetings and said that the team still has interest in re-signing Nate McLouth and Joe Saunders, Eduardo A. Encina of The Baltimore Sun tweets. Duquette added that the club has not had contact with Jim Thome and is not sure if he intends to play next season.
- The O's feel good about their second base options and their priority remains trading for a middle-of-the-order bat, according to Britt Ghiroli of MLB.com (via Twitter).
- Manager Buck Showalter has narrowed the third base coach search down and hopes to have it done by the end of the meetings, Encina tweets.
MLBTR's Steve Adams contributed to this post.
The Yankees are not talking about a potential Alex Rodriguez trade with the Marlins, according to GM Brian Cashman. Cashman said Keith Olbermann’s report about trade talks is "not true," according to Bryan Hoch of MLB.com. It’d be an unusual time to discuss a trade, as the Yankees are still in the playoffs and the Marlins have uncertainty in their front office. On to today’s links…
- Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette said Jim Thome "did a nice job" in Baltimore and "added a real veteran presence,” Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com reports. Thome sounds undecided about his next step, but he could re-sign with Baltimore this coming offseason. Making room for him on the roster could require some creativity on the part of Duquette and manager Buck Showalter.
- Baseball executives Brian Sabean (Giants GM), Dan O'Dowd (Rockies GM) and J.P. Ricciardi (Mets special assistant) agree that Marco Scutaro is a talented played with toughness, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. The Giants infielder stayed in the game to deliver a key hit after being knocked down by Matt Holliday’s overly aggressive slide in the second game of the NLCS.
- Brian McCann could miss the beginning of the 2013 season to recover from shoulder surgery, so the $12MM club option on his contract presents the Braves with a quandary, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney writes. McCann doesn’t have much to worry about in Olney’s estimation. Either the Braves bring the 28-year-old back or he hits free agency and draws interest from many teams, especially AL clubs looking at him as a catcher/DH.
- It's too soon to know if the Braves will pick up the option, but MLB.com's Mark Bowman would guess that McCann will be back.
Stephen Strasburg may not be there, but the Nationals are going to the playoffs. The Nats clinched a postseason berth with tonight's 4-1 win over the Dodgers and now have a magic number of eight to clinch the NL East. This is the franchise's first postseason appearance since reaching the NLCS (as the Expos) in 1981, and the first time a Washington baseball team has made the postseason since the Senators played in the 1933 World Series.
Here's the latest from around the majors…
- Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic talks to several executives and scouts about Justin Upton's trade value, with the general consensus being that the Diamondbacks can still command a high price for the outfielder, though Upton's disappointing 2012 campaign has hurt his value. Opinion was split on whether the D'Backs or Rangers would have to add players in such a possible Upton-for-Elvis Andrus deal.
- Upton discusses his season, his career development and his feelings about the trade rumors in an extensive profile by Robert Sanchez of ESPN The Magazine.
- John Axford believes the Zack Greinke trade was the inspiration for the Brewers' surprising turn-around, reports MLB.com's Adam McCalvy. Since Greinke was dealt to the Angels on July 27, the Brewers have surged back into the NL wild card race with a 32-18 record, including today's win over the Pirates. "Personally, I thought it was going to be more motivation for certain guys," Axford said. "There wasn't ever a thought on this team that this was a lost season. It was disappointing for a while….But there's no guy on this team that's going to lie down and give up. It's shown recently."
- "The sense now is that some teams would still be willing to take [Yunel Escobar] on provided he delivers a proper penance first," writes Sportsnet.ca's Shi Davidi. Escobar is scheduled to return on Friday from his three-game suspension for wearing eye black that contained a homophobic slur. This incident could spur Escobar's departure from Toronto, especially since the Blue Jays have promising shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria waiting in the wings.
- ESPN's Jim Bowden lists ten of the top managerial candidates, a compilation that includes nine men who have never managed at the Major League level and two-time World Series winner Terry Francona. Two names on Bowden's list (Tim Bogar and Dave Martinez) are reportedly the top candidates to become the Astros' new manager.
- Jim Thome's quest for a World Series ring has surprisingly taken him to the Orioles instead of the Phillies, writes MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince, but the slugger has dropped hints that 2012 may not be his last season.
- Derek Jeter told ESPN's Rick Reilly (passed on by Anthony McCarron of the New York Daily News) that he would potentially be open to playing for a team besides the Yankees once his current contract expires. "Well, if I wanted to keep playing, yes," Jeter said. "It's a business. People forget that." Jeter is under contract through the 2013 season with an $8MM player option for 2014; the shortstop turns 40 years old in June 2014.