41-year-old Jim Thome isn’t done mashing taters off big league pitchers, but he has a job waiting for him when he retires.
According to Chuck Garfen of CSNChicago.com, White Sox Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said at SoxFest last night that he and Thome have a handshake deal for the veteran slugger to work for the team when his playing career is over.
“When he left here to go to the Twins (in 2010), we kind of shook hands and agreed that, whenever his career is over, he’ll come back to the White Sox in some capacity,” Reinsdorf said. “He did say that he wants to live in Chicago. Whenever it’s over, hopefully I’ll see him back here. And I hope I live to see him go into the Hall of Fame.”
“Anything he wants,” Reinsdorf said. “I’d like to see him come to spring training, work with the young players. He’s a great role model. He really understands hitting. This is not just a guy who goes up there with a bat and swings. He understands hitting. We’ve talked about hitting a lot. He understands it. There’s a lot that he can impart. Just being around, you know. If he goes on to be a big league coach, that would work too.”
Thome was mentioned as a possibility for the White Sox hitting coach job prior to signing a one-year, $1.25 million contract with the Phillies in early November. The club has since hired former major-league infielder Jeff Manto to join Robin Ventura’s staff.
Thome currently sits in eighth-place on the all-time list with 604 career home runs. He doesn’t figure to get many at-bats with the Phillies this season, but Sammy Sosa (in seventh place with 609 career home runs) is within striking distance.
A report from the Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly suggests that free agent catcher Welington Castillo currently tops the Orioles’ list of potential backstop targets for the 2017 season. With Matt Wieters on the market, the Orioles lack a suitable platoon partner for Caleb Joseph behind the dish, and Connolly adds that the club has been discussing a multi-year deal with Castillo’s representatives since the Winter Meetings.
Castillo batted .264/.322/.423 with the Diamondbacks in 2016, racking up 14 home runs and driving in a career-high 68 RBI in 457 PA. His bat provides much of his upside, and Connolly quoted an anonymous National League scout who believes that the 29-year-old’s defensive profile has fallen short of his potential in recent years.
For better or worse, both the Orioles and Castillo appear far from locking in a deal for 2017. Both the Rays and Braves have expressed interest in the veteran catcher during the past week, while the Orioles are reportedly considering Wieters, Nick Hundley and Chris Iannetta as alternatives behind the plate.
The Phillies reportedly signed veteran outfielder Daniel Nava to a minor league contract, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Nava began the season on a one-year contract with the Angels, during which he slashed .235/.309/.303 through 136 PA in the first half of 2016. He was flipped to the Royals in late August for a player to be named later and saw the remainder of his year go down the drain on an .091 average through 12 PA in Anaheim. After getting the boot from the Angels’ 40-man roster in November, the 33-year-old outfielder elected free agency.
Nava is expected to compete for a bench role on the Phillies’ roster in the spring. As it currently stands, the club’s projected 2017 outfield features Howie Kendrick and Odubel Herrera, with precious little depth behind them. Nava’s bat is underwhelming, but at the very least he offers the Phillies a warm body in left field and a potential platoon partner for one of their younger options, a la Tyler Goeddel or Roman Quinn.