After flirting with the Rangers while searching for a multi-year deal, Jim Thome has returned to the Twins on a one-year contract.
According to Kelly Thesier of MLB.com he’ll get $3 million in guaranteed money, plus incentives based on playing time, which means the Twins got Thome at a bargain rate for the second straight offseason after he hit .283 with 25 homers and a 1.039 OPS in 340 plate appearances last year while earning around $2 million.
Thome started just 34 of the Twins’ first 84 games last season, but then became an everyday player following Justin Morneau’s season-ending concussion on July 7 and put up incredible numbers down the stretch. Morneau’s status remains a huge question mark, but if he’s healthy the Twins will again have five hitters for four lineup spots and manager Ron Gardenhire will have to stick Thome, Michael Cuddyer, Delmon Young, or Jason Kubel on the bench each game.
That’s a nice problem to have, of course, and Gardenhire could make things easy on himself by sitting Thome or Kubel versus lefties and Cuddyer versus righties, but Cuddyer has never been a part-time player before. However the playing time shakes out, the Twins are bringing back one of the elite hitters in baseball for just $3 million in upfront money and it’s impossible to spin that as anything but a great move.
The Cubs wrapped up a four-game series against the Reds at Wrigley Field on Thursday afternoon, suffering a 13-10 loss to split the set. They’ll match up again against the Reds next week for a three-game series in Cincinnati. That’s good news for Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant, because that means he’ll get to see Reds first baseman Joey Votto some more.
As CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney reports, Bryant has grown quite fond of Votto. Bryant has already won a World Series ring, a Rookie of the Year Award, and an MVP Award, but he still looks up to Votto. According to Bryant, Votto is “the best player ever.” He added, ““He’s my favorite player. I love watching him. I love talking to him, just picking his brain. He gets a lot of (heat) about his walks and working at-bats and some people want him to swing at more pitches. But, gosh, I mean, he does an unbelievable job. You know that he’s going to give you a great at-bat every time he goes up there. It’s definitely a guy that I look up to and I can learn from.”
Bryant said that Votto is “a future Hall of Famer, that’s for sure.”
Bryant also explained how his approach changed by watching Votto. He said that in his rookie season, he was “swinging at everything.” Votto, however, is “aggressive, but he’s not going to swing at a pitch until he wants it.”
Indeed, in Bryant’s rookie season, he struck out in nearly 31 percent of his 650 plate appearances. This season, he has struck out in only 19 percent of his PA. His walk rate has also increased by more than 2.5 percent since his rookie campaign. Compared to last year, Bryant is down in HR and RBI, but his average is the same, his on-base percentage is markedly better, and his slugging percentage is only down by a minute amount.
Diamondbacks second baseman Daniel Descalso hit his team’s third inside-the-park home run of the season during Thursday’s 4-0 win over the Astros. In the top of the fourth inning, with the score 1-0 and the bases empty, Descalso ripped a 1-0, 83 MPH change-up to right-center field. The ball caromed off the wall, heading towards left field, which sent center Jake Marisnick on the chase. Marisnick tried to pick up the ball with his glove, but dropped it, which sealed Descalso’s destiny for an inside-the-parker.
It had only been five days since the Diamondbacks’ last inside-the-park home run. David Peralta hit one against the Cubs on August 12. Ketel Marte legged out his club’s first ITPHR on July 26 against the Braves.
As ESPN Stats & Info notes, the Diamondbacks have three as a team, which is amazing because the other 29 teams have hit seven combined.