After three years in Korea, Eric Thames is back in the big leagues with the Brewers on a three-year, $16MM deal the team hopes will make him a better deal than former first baseman Chris Carter, Tyler Kepner of the New York Times writes. Carter, of course, hit 41 home runs last season but struck out 206 times and contributed little defensively, making him a potentially poor value if the Brewers had taken him to arbitration. Thames hit 124 home runs in 1,634 plate appearances in his three seasons overseas. “We expect a productive Major League player,” says Brewers GM David Stearns. “That can take shape in a variety of ways. With a signing like this, there’s a fairly wide variance of potential outcomes, and we think there’s a lot of upside there.” Stearns notes that one difference between the Majors and the KBO is that big-league pitchers are likely to throw Thames more fastballs than KBO pitchers did. Here’s more from the Central divisions.
- Catcher Stuart Turner faces an uphill battle as he attempts to make the Reds’ roster, writes MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon. Stuart, who the Reds selected from the Twins in the last Rule 5 Draft, at least has the advantage of already being on the Reds’ 40-man roster, as Sheldon points out. But with two big-league catchers in front of him in Devin Mesoraco and Tucker Barnhart, Stuart will have to make the team as a third catcher (unless, of course, someone gets hurt, a possibility that’s perhaps worth keeping in mind given Mesoraco’s injury history). Turner also spent the last two seasons in Double-A, so the big leagues would be a big jump for him. “We get a six-to-seven week look at him to see if he’s ready to handle what would be a year of big league service time,” says Reds manager Bryan Price. “He’d have to play. I just don’t think we’re in a place to carry a player just to keep him.”
- The possibility of rebuilding, or something like it, lingers in the minds of some veteran Tigers players, MLive.com’s Evan Woodbery writes. When the offseason began, the possibility that the team would trade veterans was seemingly on the table. The team kept its core of older players, but those older stars are now aware that they or their teammates could be headed elsewhere if the team doesn’t succeed. “We’ve got a chance to play one more year together,” says Miguel Cabrera. “We know we didn’t go to the playoffs the last two years, but I think if we stay together, if we stay healthy, we’ve got a chance to compete every day.” Cabrera, of course, is under contract through at least 2023. But J.D. Martinez and Francisco Rodriguez will be free agents after the season, Justin Upton can out of his deal next winter as well, Ian Kinsler only has one more year and an option left on his contract, and Victor Martinez is only signed through 2018.