Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe went over the wealth of free agents left on the market earlier this morning.
We’ve covered a couple of them here today, including Joe Crede and Joel
Pineiro, but Scott Merkin of MLB.com passes along word that three or
four teams — including the Rays — have contacted free agent designated hitter Jim Thome. He does so with the caveat that “nothing is contractually-imminent.”
Aside from the “Thinnest rumor of the year,”
we haven’t heard a whole lot about the 39-year-old slugger this winter.
And teams that he would make a great deal of sense for (White Sox,
Rangers, Angels) look to have settled on other options. That said, Thome could be a nice fit as part of a lefty-swinging DH-tandem with Pat Burrell in Tampa.
Thome’s OPS slipped to 847 last season, but he put up an 881 mark and .383 on-base percentage against right-handers. Meanwhile, Burrell has a 916 career OPS and .403 on-base percentage against left-handers, even though he failed to hit a home run in 119 at-bats against southpaws last season.
The Yankees and Astros are set for Game 7 of the American League Championship Series on Saturday, and neither team will hold back as they seek a World Series berth. The Astros are prepared to back starter Charlie Morton with any able-bodied pitcher in their ranks — including Justin Verlander, though A.J. Hinch said it would be a “dream scenario” to get anything more from his ace — while the Yankees are prepared to utilize all but a few of their arms. One pitcher you won’t see? Right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, who last took the hill for the Yankees during their Game 5 shutout on Wednesday.
Tanaka expended 103 pitches over seven scoreless innings in his last start, fending off the Astros with three hits, a walk and eight strikeouts. He hasn’t pitched on fewer than three days of rest all year, and even with a do-or-die scenario facing the Yankees on Saturday night, manager Joe Girardi doesn’t want to compromise his starter’s ability to stay rested and ready for the World Series.
Girardi will also play it safe with fellow right-hander Sonny Gray, who dominated in a five-inning performance in Game 4. All other pitchers should be available and ready to go, though the club is hoping for a lengthy outing from veteran starter CC Sabathia. Sabathia is no stranger to the postseason: over eight separate playoff runs, he touts one championship title and a collective 4.24 ERA in 123 innings. He held the Astros scoreless in his Game 3 start, blanking them over six innings on three hits, four walks and five strikeouts for an eventual 8-1 win.
Even without Tanaka or Gray likely to take the mound for Game 7, the Yankees will enter the series finale with history on their side. Per MLB.com, they have a 4-3 road record in Game 7s and are 6-7 in all 13 Game 7 finales to date. The Astros, on the other hand, dropped their first and only Game 7 clincher back in 2004, when the Cardinals capped the NLCS with a 5-2 win in St. Louis. The teams are scheduled to face off for the first-ever Game 7 at Minute Maid Park on Saturday at 8:00 PM ET.