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.