There was some bitterness when Jim Thome bolted for Philadelphia following the 2002 season, but it hasn’t taken long for him to be embraced in his second act with Cleveland.
According to the Associated Press, the Indians announced plans before tonight’s game to honor Thome by erecting a bronze statue of his likeness in Heritage Park beyond the wall in center field. The statue will depict Thome doing his trademark bat point.
Jordan Bastian of MLB.com reports that the statue will be in the same area where his 511-foot home run landed on July 3, 1999, which is the longest home run in the history of the ballpark.
Too soon for a Thome statue? Maybe. Others (Larry Doby, hello?) who are also deserving? You bet. But including his two-run blast in the bottom of the third inning tonight — the 604th home run of his career — the 41-year-old slugger holds the Indians’ franchise record with 337 home runs.
The Orioles singlehandedly kept the rumor mill churning this weekend. MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports that the club is interested in making a play for free agent right-hander Lance Lynn, adding him to a list of potential candidates that also includes free agent righty Alex Cobb. The two are expected to command similar contracts in free agency, but Morosi notes that the Orioles may prefer Cobb based on his familiarity with the AL East.
Lynn, 30, is two years removed from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. Despite missing the 2016 season, he bounced back with a respectable 11-8 record in 33 starts and complemented his efforts with a 3.43 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 7.4 SO/9 over 186 1/3 innings for the 2017 Cardinals. He lost several days with a blister on his pitching hand in early September, but managed to avoid any major injuries and can reasonably be expected to shoulder another heavy workload in 2018.
Lynn may not be the Orioles’ first choice to beef up their starting rotation, but there’s no doubt that he’ll be in high demand as one of very few viable starters on the market this winter. The veteran righty rejected his one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Cardinals on Thursday and will likely be seeking a multi-year contract, one that Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch estimates around five years and $100+ million. If the Orioles are willing to bite that bullet, they’ll still need to compensate the Cardinals with their third pick in next year’s draft.