Word from ESPN Radio 1000 in Chicago is that the White Sox are talking to the Phillies about Jim Thome. Apparently the Sox would acquire Thome for some combination of Aaron Rowand, Jose Contreras, and Brandon McCarthy. The Phillies would pay the "majority" of Thome’s contract.
MLBTradeRumors.com is skeptical to say the least. We haven’t received confirmation yet on which ESPN reporter floated this rumor, but the memory of Bruce Levine announcing an imminent Juan Pierre deal is all too fresh. As proposed, this is simply way too much value for the White Sox to give up for Thome.
It makes sense for Rowand to be involved – he’s at the peak of his perceived value and the Phillies need a centerfielder. Scott Podsednik could easily slide over to take Rowand’s place. However, a healthy Thome as DH vs. Rowand in center field could easily be equal in value in 2006. We’re talking 5-6 wins from each player.
While it’s true the White Sox potentially have six starting pitchers, the club would be advised not to depend on anything from Orlando Hernandez. Shipping off Jose Contreras after his dominant second half (2.91 ERA) probably isn’t going to happen. Trading a young player with the promise and affordability of Brandon McCarthy seems equally unlikely. On the other hand, Kenny Williams did deal top prospect Jeremy Reed to Seattle to acquire Freddy Garcia.
Does the money make sense? The ESPN report claims that the Phillies would be paying the majority of Thome’s contract. Thome is due $12.5MM in 2006 and $14MM in 2007, $14MM in 2008, and a $3MM buyout in 2009. (Wow, now that’s a bad contract). Would the Phillies really pick up the tab on most of $43.5MM? I presume we’re talking somewhere around $30MM.
If so, three years of Thome for $4.5MM annually is a solid gamble for the White Sox. Considering the way U.S. Cellular inflates home run totals for left-handed hitters, 40 HR could turn into 46 pretty easily. Rowand has yet to reach free agency and is due $3.25MM in ’06 with a $5MM club option for ’07.
A trade of Thome and $30MM for Rowand is feasible for the Sox, assuming Thome is healthy. If the Sox made the ill-advised move to include a starting pitcher, Phillies management could justify the deal.
We’ll keep you posted as details surface about these trade talks.
Thanks to Alex.