The Hot Stove is off and running.
Todd Zolecki of MLB.com reports that the Phillies and Jim Thome have agreed on a one-year contract, pending a physical. Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com was told by a source that the veteran slugger will receive $1.25 million.
Thome, who currently sits at eighth place on the all-time list with 604 career homers, batted .256/.361/.477 with 15 homers, 50 RBI and an .838 OPS over 324 plate appearances this season between the Twins and Indians. He previously played with the Phillies from 2003-2005 before being traded to the White Sox in the deal that brought Aaron Rowand to Philadelphia.
The 41-year-old Thome provides an interesting insurance policy at first base for Ryan Howard, who is coming off surgery to repair a ruptured Achilles. However, it’s worth noting that he hasn’t started a game there since 2007 and hasn’t played there regularly since his last stint in Philadelphia. Simply put, if all goes according to plan, he’ll likely function as a left-handed bat off the bench. Now reunited with Charlie Manuel, this is mostly about giving him his best chance at finally getting a World Series ring.
The Arizona Fall League competition came to a close on Saturday, concluding with the Peoria Javelinas’ 8-2 win over the Mesa Solar Sox for the championship title. No one stood out more than Braves’ no. 1 prospect Ronald Acuna, who took home honors as the AFL MVP after slashing .325/.414/.639 with a league-leading seven home runs and second-best 1.053 OPS in 83 at-bats.
At just 19 years old, Acuna is the youngest prospect to receive the award. He made his presence felt even before he suited up for the AFL, earning promotions to the Braves’ Double-A Mississippi and Triple-A Gwinnett and batting a remarkable .325/.374/.522 with 21 home runs across three levels in 2017.
Acuna was also a major factor in the Javelinas’ win on Saturday, but he wasn’t the first to make some noise. The Solar Sox got to right-hander T.J. Zeuch in the first inning, leading off with three singles and a run-scoring sac fly to get a 2-0 edge over the Javelinas. It was the only lead they’d get all afternoon and it lasted just two innings. Luis Urias snapped the shutout with a sac fly in the bottom of the second inning, and the Javelinas took the lead with a game-tying RBI single from Acuna and two-run base hit from Braves’ no. 16 prospect Alex Jackson in the third.
From then on, it was smooth sailing for Peoria. Andrew Case, Andres Munoz and Art Warren combined for 3 1/3 scoreless innings in relief, while the offense tacked on another handful of runs with Acuna’s fourth-inning two-RBI single and Michael Chavis’ eighth-inning triple. With runners at the corners and one out, the Solar Sox lifted right-hander Dakota Bacus for fellow righty Nolan Blackwood. Even he was flummoxed by Acuna, however, who grabbed hold of the first pitch he saw and returned another sac fly to center field for the Javelinas’ eighth and final run of the game.
Only 131 days left until Opening Day, folks.